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Auckland's "party central" plans in chaos

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, July 8 NZPA - Plans for a Rugby World Cup "party central" in Auckland were in chaos tonight as a stoush between the Government and the city's local authorities worsened.

Murray McCully, the cabinet minister in charge of the 2011 World Cup, described Auckland local government as "a train wreck" after the regional council (ARC) turned its back on the Government's plan to demolish two century-old sheds on Queen's Wharf and put up a temporary glass and steel party venue.

Instead the ARC wants to renovate one shed, move the other and build a temporary structure that is still to be designed.

That would cost $27.6 million compared with $19.4m for the Government's plan and Prime Minister John Key, who championed the "party central" concept, said another site could be chosen.

Mr McCully flew back from Tonga today and walked into the stand-off.

"You come to Auckland where there is this train wreck of a local government and frankly it's very hard to do business," he said on TV One News.

Mr Key, who is visiting China, told reporters the Government would look at its options.

"But I don't think, in all good conscience, that I can put up an enormous amount of either ratepayor or taxpayer dollars for something that doesn't really seem to have a long-term strategic plan -- I can't see how those sheds fit into a long-term cruise ship terminal."

The Government and the council originally bought Queen's Wharf intending to develop a plan for the World Cup and a cruise ship terminal.

With just over a year to go, a viable plan needs to be decided quickly.

The ARC issued a statement tonight saying it was acutely aware of that.

"The options we are exploring will preserve Auckland's waterfront heritage, provide for its economy by better serving the growing cruise ship industry and it can still be delivered in time for the Rugby World Cup," it said.

Mr Key said he couldn't see where the council would get the money to restore the shed.

"We've done everything we can... including trying to be flexible," he said.

Auckland City Mayor John Banks added to the confusion by issuing a brief statement tonight.

"My door is always open to the owners of Queen's Wharf -- especially the Government -- to talk about making the Rugby World Cup a success for Auckland," he said.

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