Duncan Garner has demolished the government’s disgraceful excuse-making over its woeful lack of preparation for the World Cup:
For the Government to point the finger at the Auckland Council for the debacle on the woeful Waterfront last Friday is a cop-out.
It’s not just the fault of the hopeless Council. Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully must share the blame. Party Central was his Government’s idea. His Government and the Council invited the world to join the party at the Waterfront last Friday.
The Rugby World Cup is the third biggest sporting event on earth. Why was anyone surprised when hundreds of thousands turned up? I was there. It was scary. It was a disgrace. There were few police. There were no barriers. It was NOT family friendly. It was a tragedy waiting to happen.
And that’s just Party Central. That’s the bit the Government was responsible for. Don’t forget that.
Waka rowers get beaten up by the crowd and John Key says everything went perfectly. What a clown.
The transport was equally as bad. The train issue has been widely reported. But the buses haven’t. There were no buses. It was not obvious where the buses were leaving from.
This has to change. International tourists were asking me where the buses to Eden Park were. I was embarrassed I didn’t know. I told them to follow me as we walked up Queen Street – hoping like hell we’d find one. We did. One, I repeat, one bus, was sitting outside the Civic Theatre.
National took public transport out of the Council’s control and gave it to an autonomous body, Auckland Transport. National appointed the people to run that organisation.
It was like inviting 500 people to your house for a party. Only 50 could fit into the room. And worse still, you’d only catered for 20.
McCully is a micro-manager. He always has been. He even chose the colour of the volunteers’ uniform.
As Trevor Mallard said, maybe McCully should have spent more time on the real planning and less time picking the colour of the shirt for Key to mince in. And, given what happened on Friday, doesn’t that video now stand as the ultimate example of show over substance from Key.
The success of this World Cup, both on and off the field, is crucial to National’s re-election campaign. That’s why they linked the Pacific Islands Forum to the Opening Ceremony. That’s why all the leaders wore black. That’s why Key spoke at the Opening Ceremony. An unsuccessful tournament will affect National. It has hitched it’s re-election horse to this event, well and truly.
But that was then – this is now – and it’s all changed.
So what to make of McCully’s takeover of the Auckland waterfront under the RWC legislation?
Well firstly, his decision to snub Len Brown yesterday by not telling him of the decision is remarkably arrogant in my opinion.
Brown and his Council are partners in all this. Sure, they both got it woefully wrong last Friday, but surely a phone call – or shared press conference was the minimum required.
By taking the tournament over, McCully can’t really lose. Never again will 200,000 people descend on the waterfront, so McCully is safe there.
How many are they planning for a final with the All Blacks in it? 50,000 like last Friday?
More buses will be put on. The trains are arguably still the weak point, but no doubt they will be less trouble than last Friday. So McCully will probably look successful this weekend, and for the rest of the tournament, because the pressure point has been and gone. He really can’t lose.
But in my view, he has already lost and so has the Council.
Last weekend has left a bitter taste in many mouths. Party Central looks great, but it was never built for 200,000 people.
Wouldn’t fan zones in other parts of Auckland have been a great idea to take the pressure off the waterfront? It would also take the pressure off the transport systems. Why was the “big screen” set up across the road rather than down the side of the road? It effectively cut off fifty thousand people. Half the crowd was looking into the back of the wires? Who allowed that to happen?
Party Central appears like a great concept. But in so many ways it’s flawed, largely because it’s 4.5 kms away from Eden Park. It’s so damn hard to get from one to the other. A waterfront stadium would have solved this problem.
Auckland needed a legacy after this Rugby World Cup. A downtown or waterfront stadium would have been that legacy. … We got the collapsible Cloud worth $9.5m and a half arsed upgrade of Eden Park, with seats that will come down on October 24, the day after the final. We have a few upgraded provincial stadiums. So what.
But we will be left with an argument over what to do with Queens Wharf – a huge Auckland stadium that can’t host concerts because it’s in the suburbs, and a train system that is no better than what it was before the World Cup.
That’s the legacy of this World Cup. Hopeless central and local body politicians who failed to take a big decision when it mattered – who failed to give us a legacy.
That’s what you get when you put a donkey in charge.