INDEPENDENT NEWS

'Mallard is blackmailing Auckland'

Published: Mon 20 Nov 2006 09:44 AM
RAM media release 19.11.06
At today's protest meeting on the proposed waterfront stadium, the following statement was issued as a leaflet:
ARC councillor Robyn Hughes says:
'Mallard is blackmailing Auckland'
To All Citizens of the Auckland Region
No matter which way Auckland's councillors vote on the stadium, the government is aiming to legislate to get what it wants for the Rugby World Cup venue.
That was Trevor Mallard's underlying message to the Auckland Regional Council on 16th November.
This is a total denial of democracy. Mr Mallard is blackmailing Auckland to promote his mad scheme of building a giant used condom on the waterfront.
If the ARC says 'yes' to the waterfront stadium, then the council is committing itself to funding 25% of the costs, which could be as high as $250 million. This could effectively bankrupt the ARC or force a massive hike in rates.
If the ARC says 'no' to the waterfront stadium, there are supposedly no costs for the council. That, however, would change if government enacted legislation making the ARC responsible for stadiums in the region, including Eden Park, thus transferring massive liabilities to the council. Again, this could plunge the ARC into massive debt or fuel big rate rises at a time when many people can hardly afford today¹s rates. While not explicitly stated, that was the subtext of Mr Mallard's briefing to the ARC.
While a lot of the real agenda isn't being written down, it's being hinted at behind closed doors. We have to stop this government bullying which will land us with a monstrosity on the waterfront, a massive pile of debt, and terrible traffic jams in central Auckland when the stadium is in use, all the while ignoring any realistic solution to the region's traffic gridlock and Third World public transport.
When I asked Mr Mallard if the government would instead give the $1 billion estimated to build the waterfront stadium to the ARC so that our council could fund free & frequent public transport, as well as do up Eden Park, the minister gave a definite 'no'.
I believe that free & frequent public transport would turn Auckland into a truly world class region, and give a lead to other countries in finding solutions to the global warming that could make a fish bowl out of Mr Mallard's waterfront stadium.
Let's turn this whole sad business into a good news story. How? By linking our rejection of the giant used condom to our request that the government fund free & frequent public transport. The money is there if, firstly, a halt is called on motorway extensions, and secondly, hotel beds and airlines are taxed as Mr Mallard proposed in his waterfront stadium plan.
A petition for free & frequent public transport has been jointly launched by two groups to which I belong, ClimAction and RAM (Residents Action Movement). I would ask you to sign, and also to consider becoming a co-sponsor of the petition. For more information on the petition or on RAM, please contact me:
Ends

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