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$58m Spend-Up on RWC a Gross Breach Of Promise

Media Release
City Vision-Labour Councillors - Auckland City Council
For Immediate Release
Tuesday 27 May 2008


John Banks' $58m Spend-Up on RWC a "Gross Breach Of Promise"


John Banks' vote at Thursday's Council meeting for a $36 million 'world class' spending package for Rugby World Cup 2011 is being described by City Vision-Labour councillors as a gross breach of promise.

"Banks may very well have won the election last year by saying ratepayers' money should not be wasted on Eden Park but limited to $20 million to upgrade the existing Kingsland area," says Councillor Cathy Casey.

"He has now asked and voted to rack up RWC spending of $58 million.  $22 million of ratepayers' money has already been committed for the Kingsland upgrade.  This additional $36 million for window dressing and a large party is an outrage.  What is the legacy to the city when the rugby is over?  If Banks had told voters that he was going to spend $58 million of ratepayers' money on this he would not have won the election!"

Banks and the David Hay-led Citizens and Ratepayers (C&R) Council opted for the most expensive of the three funding packages on offer at Thursday's meeting.

"The cheapest package ($13.9 million) would have ensured services were enhanced to cope with the influx of people and traffic to games and also provided for a team welcome event.  Officers were critical that 'Auckland will look much the same as it does now' thus visitors would not be encouraged to stay.  But who considers the way a city looks before they make their booking?  Aren't they coming to watch the rugby?

"The middle package ($27.2 million) included 'an extensive communications programme' to ensure visitors 'will not fail to see that Auckland is prepared and welcoming and ready to greet the international rugby community with Kiwi warmth and hospitality'.  It also included city 'dressing' to 'ensure Auckland is looking at its very best'.

"The most expensive option ($35.8 million) combined options 1 and 2 but also delivered 'key, show-stopping, high profile events and services' including 'a signature, one-off and demonstrably Auckland major public event'.

"For John Banks to opt for a $36 million budget blow-out to window dress the city and hold a big party flies in the face of all the election promises he made to the people of Auckland," says Councillor Casey.

Councillor Glenda Fryer is concerned about how the council is going to pay for the extra $36 million.

"The report on the options offered no advice as to how we are going to pay for this $36 million spend-up.  Presumably Banks will go on yet another slash and burn exercise.  What further community projects is he going to cut this time?  What further council services are going to be slashed in Avondale, Mt Roskill, Glen Innes and Otahuhu to accommodate this extravagant spend up to celebrate one sporting event?  Is it time to bolt down our family silver again?"



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