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Injunction fails to stop councils deciding tonight
Thursday November 23, 2006
By David Eames and Brian Rudman

An attempt to slap an injunction on a decision on the waterfront stadium has failed.

Auckland City Council is meeting tonight to make their choice on the waterfront or a revamped Eden Park.

But just a few moments ago, the High Court dismissed an application for an interim injunction halting imminent City Council and Auckland Regional Authority decisions on the waterfront stadium proposal.

Justice John Priestley, in a decision just delivered, ruled an application filed by five Auckland residents last night did not need to be imposed as the party still had avenues in which to fight future stadium siting decisions.

Among them, a second injunction hearing into the waterfront stadium proposal set for two days from December 11.

Justice Priestley rejected a submission by Rodney Harrison, QC, on behalf of the plaintiffs that decisions made at local government level tonight and tomorrow would set in train an unstoppable course of politically-motivated decisions.

The local authorities would still have room to fight future decisions through the Local Government Act, he said.

"I have no idea what those decisions might be. Exactly how the defendants (local government) react to central Government requests or pressure is a matter for them.

"But they are responsible territorial authorities who cannot be oblivious to their statutory obligations."

Earlier, the ARC chairman Mike Lee attacked his own counsel Brian Latimore for failing to follow instructions at today's High Court injunction hearing.

"We were there as peacekeepers not combatants and it seems this guy has gone in and opened fire," Mr Lee said.

He said the instruction was "not to oppose any injunction, merely to assist the court by explaining what was going on and leave the argument to the judge and the other parties."

Mr Lee said further instructions had been sent to Mr Latimore when he learnt of what he had said.

Auckland City Council is due to make its decision on the stadium at a 6pm meeting. Its counsel, Graeme Hall, this morning requested on behalf of the city council that the injunction hearing be postponed until more developed submissions could be made.

"Justice will not be served if this matter proceeds today," he said.

Mr Hall and Mr Latimore told Justice John Priestley that both local authorities should be permitted to go ahead with their stadium decisions as planned in spite of a proposed adjournment, as the decisions were nothing more than an expression of a preferred site as had been requested by the Government.

The five plaintiffs - led by Auckland resident Valerie Scott and including Patrick McGuire and Guy Hallwright - lodged the injunction last night due to concerns there had been a lack of consultation by the local authorities.

However, "what is being sought on the plaintiffs' application and what Auckland City Council is required to consider tonight are quite different", Mr Hall argued.

Any final decision on the stadium location was for central government and the Auckland City Council would only be expressing a preferred option at tonight's meeting, he said.

Mr Latimore for the ARC said the regional authority was in "a very similar situation" to the city council. He supported Mr Hall's application to have the hearing adjourned as the ARC had had "no effective time" to prepare.

He said an ARC decision on a stadium location, due to be taken tomorrow like the city council's decision was only as the preferred the site.

"It's only central government saying we are looking at doing this… is Auckland interested in doing this?"