Injunction fails to stop decision on waterfront stadium in New Zealand

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Today an injunction that was filed in the High Court yesterday to stop the Auckland City Council and Auckland Regional Council from telling the Government which stadium they prefer has failed. The decision is over a new stadium located on the waterfront of Auckland, New Zealand or an upgrade of the already existing, Eden Park, Auckland. The stadium is for the final of the Rugby World Cup 2011, which New Zealand is hosting.

The injunction was filed by a group of five Aucklanders who believe that the decision is being rushed. The injunction was filed in the name of a private citizen to represent a group of five Aucklanders. Rodney Hide, leader of the ACT party and Member of Parliament (MP) and MP for the Green party, Keith Locke, are helping the fight for the injunction as they believe the Aucklanders have a strong case.

Justice John Priestley said that the group did not need this injunction because they could fight the stadium decision in the future by different means. A second injunction has already been filed for two days, starting December 11.

Mayor of Auckland, Dick Hubbard, said: "The council's advisors have informed that processes have been proper and appropriate."

Rodney Harrison, Queens Counsel (QC), said: "The group that lodged the injunction were Auckland ratepayers, residents and concerned citizens but none of whom could be called high profile. I have no idea what those decisions might be. Exactly how the defendants (local government) react to central Government requests or pressure is a matter for them."

ARC chairman, Mike Lee attacked his own counsel Brian Latimore for failing to follow instructions at today's High Court injunction hearing. The instruction were "not to oppose any injunction, merely to assist the court by explaining what was going on and leave the argument to the judge and the other parties."

Mr Lee said: "We were there as peacekeepers not combatants and it seems this guy has gone in and opened fire."

Patrick McGuire, one of the five Aucklanders who had sought the injunction, said that Mr Hide had introduced all of them to each other after they each wrote a letter to him with their concerns. Mr McGuire said it requires "public input".

Mr Hide said that he "had acted as a middle-man, arranging for the members of the group to meet with lawyers." Mr Locke and Mr Hide are working together because they are concerned the legal processes of the decision over which stadium will be chosen and how the decision will be made. Mr Hide said he did not like the waterfront stadium, "I'm not a lawyer but the legal advice we have had is that the injunction has a high chance of succeeding."

The two councils, Auckland City and Auckland Regional, have been consulting the affected groups to see which decision they should go with. The Auckland City Council is currently in a meeting discussing the stadium decision and the Regional Council will do it tomorrow.

If the waterfront stadium was chosen then the stadium will be located on Ports of Auckland land and they want a guarantee that their running of the ports will not be affected. Denis Carlisle, president of the local Maritime union, said: "The Ports of Auckland are asking for guarantees that they will not suffer any financial loss from the stadium project, and likewise the Maritime Union will be seeking compensation for our members for any loss of work. The issue was about safeguarding Port of Auckland's role as a major working port."

"[The Ports of Auckland] is one of the key gateways between New Zealand and the global economy."

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