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Council To Spend Up Large On Rugby World Cup

Council To Spend Up Large On Rugby World Cup

By Natasha Burling – AUT Journalism Student

Auckland City Council’s decision to spend $36 million on the Rugby World Cup 2011 has some councillors hot under the collar.

At the most recent council meeting on May 22 councillors voted to go ahead with the ‘World Class’ package, which was the most expensive of three proposed plans.

It is not yet clear exactly what the money will be spent on but councillors say it will include events, signage and smartening up the city.

Councillor Graham Easte thinks the council has its priorities wrong: “At a time when the council is cutting lots of worthwhile projects that will have long term benefits, it’s not appropriate to be spending up large on what is going to be in effect, a party.”

The council intends to undertake a review of many community development projects for groups such as the elderly and the homeless in December this year.

Councillor Greg Moyle says the global importance of the Rugby World Cup means it is essential that Auckland City hosts the event well: “We want to do it right, do it once. Put it into perspective. It is the third largest sporting event in the world.”

Easte agrees that the Rugby World Cup is an important event for Auckland and New Zealand but says the government should be contributing more since they were involved in bidding to host the cup.

The fact that Auckland makes up one third of New Zealand taxpayers also means that the government should contribute some tax revenue to hosting this event, he says.

Moyle expects councils around New Zealand to contribute to the Rugby World Cup as it is an event that will benefit the entire country: “We want the participation of the rest of New Zealand. We want to be inclusive.”

The semi-finals and finals will be held in Auckland but venues for other games have not been decided yet.

Councillor Cathy Casey thinks sponsorship is the answer since businesses will be the ones who will benefit most from the cup: “Let the Chamber of Commerce do some of the dolling up of the city.”

Easte explains the council expected Auckland to pay a large sum but not nearly as much as $36 million.

He favours a reasoned approach to spending on the World Cup: “I am not opposed to Auckland City paying a share but I don’t think we should get totally carried away.”

In contrast to Auckland City, Manukau City is contributing a few hundred thousand dollars and is providing training facilities and accommodation for the athletes, says Easte.

Intangible outcomes from the Rugby World Cup such as reputation, pride and sense of belonging are important, says Greg Moyle: “We want it to be something all New Zealanders can be proud of.”

Casey agrees there will be positive effects, saying that the cup will bring the international press and a sense of identity and nationhood.

But she says the proposed $36 million expenditure will not benefit Auckland longterm. “There’s no legacy left for us. I’m just horrified. It’s a complete and utter waste of ratepayers’ money.”


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