Home About the Association Become a Member Register for Newsletters/Updates Contact Us
Tell a Neighbour/Friend
Community Links
Association Rules
Privacy Policy - Terms & Conditions
Let's hope ARC has courage to vote no
Brian Rudman
Friday November 24, 2006

You have to wonder if someone slipped a dose of P into Auckland's drinking water yesterday. The madness peaked last night with a majority of Auckland City councillors voting for a stadium site on, or as near as possible to, Bledisloe Wharf. Both the Government and Ports of Auckland agree this site is not a viable option because of the deleterious effect it would have on port operations.

Mayor Dick Hubbard argued "life is full of compromises", and showed his contempt for urban design by declaring: "I could accommodate it anywhere on the waterfront."

Last night's decision was spineless. Instead of echoing the overwhelming view of Aucklanders that the Government's favoured site on Captain Cook and Marsden Wharves was unacceptable, councillors tried not to upset the Government by fudging their reply.

They voted for the waterfront but added a "pretty please" rider, pleading with the Government to put it further east if at all possible. Whether this rolling over to Government bullying will earn Mayor Hubbard and his supporters a tummy tickle from Sport Minister Trevor Mallard we'll have to wait and see. But it's inviting a boot in the ballot boxes at next year's local elections.

Yesterday's Herald-DigiPoll survey showed how out of touch these councillors are, with only 36 per cent of Aucklanders favouring a waterfront (site unspecified) stadium compared with 50 per cent for Eden Park.

The councillors have also rejected the advice of prominent members of the expert urban design panel the city set up to guide it on such matters, and of Ludo Campbell-Reid, the council's paid urban design champion, all of whom oppose the Government's chosen site.

Councillor Penny Sefuiva, one of the minority opposing the waterfront site, accused her colleagues of being "quite deluded". The waterfront site is "fantasy. There's no business case ... I've not seen a single detailed costing for it." And that's before the environmental impact is considered.

Yet with nothing more than a smattering of Government propaganda and developer bluster to rely on, Mayor Hubbard and his supporters have ignored public misgivings and professional advice, and gone with the "vision".

Of course there's a long way to go. Today it's the ARC's turn. Chairman Mike Lee has tried to impose a ban on members of the ARC family - including Ports of Auckland - musing openly on their views, until all the facts are in.

We can only hope that ARC councillors, if only for commercial reasons, have the courage that Auckland City councillors failed to show, to end this nightmare. Eden Park. Carlaw Park. Even a passing iceberg would be better than Marsden Wharf or Bledisloe.