Well at least Burton can't say he wasn't warned -- that if he broke his probation he wouldn't have a leg to stand on.
Of course we were a lot happier and freer from guilt when we were worshiping the sun or the moon, or a waterfall or something that gave us life. It's only when those clever semites, with a need for the ultimate in social control, came up with the concept of a God we couldn't see, but who could see and hear us and knew our every thought. That's when we began shitting ourselves and racing around trying to freak everone else out. If it hadn't been for Constantine the Christians would still be a fringe loony group wandering round Rome with placards making a bloody nuisance of themselves.
Back in the mid-late fifties, when the then Auckland bureaucrats were debating the building of the harbour bridge, the British engineers strongly suggested they make it an eight-lane bridge as a four-lane, the preferred (read cheaper) option, would be unable to cope within 10 years. There was much sneering and pointing out that there were only farms on the north shore and it would be donkey's years before the bridge couldn't cope with the traffic. As it turned out it was straining at the seams with EIGHT years and the hastily organised Nippon Clip-on cost three times the total cost of the original bridge.
The intellectual stamina of yer average Auckland bureaucrat hasn't probably changed much over a couple of generations and I can see another first class balls-up well under way.
The North Harbour Stadium, situated as it is in the middle of a vast industrial area, would seem the most common-sense and least offensive of all the options -- though I must confess to finding the Carlaw Park presentation most appealing.
The NH option, apart from being the cheapest and quickest to build, would leave heaps of spare cash to concentrate on improving the NH-City transport system.
Now that the Waterfront option is out of the way the drawbacks with Eden Park are becoming obvious. Spare a thought for the poor buggers who live nearby -- the enormity of the building (did someone mention 15 storeys?), the shading (and depreciation) of properties, parking, noise, vomiting louts, et al. The smart move would be the North Harbour Stadium. The vast sums that Mallard had ready to waste on the Waterfront could go to help fund a rapid transit system to North harbour -- say a monorail, with a bridge clip-on on the clip-on? Solving all sorts of other transport probs at the same time?
Interesting little thread on e-mail security ... but doesn't every phone call, e-mail, etc, get picked up by the Americans via Waihopai?
I heard Key interviewed on NatRad a couple of months ago. I listened eagerly to hear what this man was made of; was he likely to be an improvement on, or substantially different from, Brash. Predictably, he spent the entire interview, despite being asked direct questions on policy, in engaging in that time-honoured Nat practice of blagging Labour and its policies. I didn't hear one original thought or idea. Perhaps confirming the maxim that only patronage (investment) comes from above; ideas, to carry us forward and improve the lot of us all, come from below.
I think Rod Oram said it all:
"Everything is wrong about this decision: the choice of location; the choice of funding; the wishful thinking about its impact on Auckland's economy; and the processes - marked by a lack of analysis and candour - by which the government is sucking itself into this black hole.
Let's get a few facts straight about stadiums. They are big, ugly and lightly used - Eden Park achieves about 15 days of sporting events a year. And because the facilities have to be so focused on sport, they are badly compromised for other activities.
The government is talking vaguely about turning it into a daily destination thanks to the likes of restaurants. But the sheer monolithic proportions of Stadium New Zealand would make it a very unattractive entertainment venue compared with the Viaduct.
A large stadium will dwarf the neighbouring buildings and ruin the waterfront vistas, not to mention curtail the activities of the country's main port. It would also be an absurd duplication of investment, giving Auckland a fourth imperfect and under-used stadium.
And anybody who thinks Stadium New Zealand can be built for $500m in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup is deceiving themselves and the public. Completed it might be, but only at a horrendously higher cost. Try $1 billion as a round number.
In promoting this waterfront option, Mallard and his colleagues have ditched any last vestige of rational analysis and judgement. For good advice, they need look no further than the summer 2000 edition of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, a US academic publication.
Its article "The Economics of Sports Facilities and Their Communities" has been doing the rounds. Mallard admits he was given a copy, but he hasn't read it. "The discussion's gone beyond that," he says.
Gone beyond rational analysis? The authors examined the 95 stadiums and arenas built or planned in the US in 1990-2000, at a cost of $US21.7 billion. And they reviewed all previous studies of stadium financing. They concluded there was "no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development". The evidence contradicts the "unrealistic assumptions" of stadium promoters.
And to a distressingly high extent it is public funds that are wasted on these buildings. Rarely are running costs even met, let alone depreciation and financing charges.
It is impossible for cabinet to argue Stadium New Zealand could somehow fly in the face of these realities. Yes, we need a decent stadium for the world cup, but the more we spend on it, the bigger the mess.
And most worryingly of all, if we can't trust the government to be smart about a stadium, how can we trust it to be credible about economic policy?"
I'm not against a breathtaking piece of architecture on the waterfront -- but a bloody sports ground? -- is that the best we can come up with?
Aside from the question: 'is another rugby pitch really necessary' and the fanatical rugby-mad Mallard's bullying, the thought that the Waitemata harbour, acknowledged as one of the most beautiful in the world, should be blighted by a rugger pitch resembling a flat tyre is appalling. Even the crass Aussie's, despite screams of protest from the philistine rump, managed in the end to build their spectacular opera house. Is a rugby ground the best we can come up with? The waterfront should be designed for ALL of us, not just the sports fraternity.