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Key’s party central fail

Written By: - Date published: 9:22 am, February 20th, 2010 - 42 comments
Categories: john key - Tags: ,

So Key’s “party central” plan for Queen’s Wharf seems to be dead in the water, after Auckland Mayors labeled it a “monstrosity” and refused to fund it.

It’s not the first time that Auckland has spat the dummy over infrastructure for the World Cup. Labour was unable to convince the city to get behind a new stadium. So what’s up with Auckland? Are these the prudent decisions of leaders who don’t want the city saddled with expensive white elephants, or the timid decisions of leaders who are without vision and averse to risk? Would these projects have been good or bad for Auckland?

In the case of party central John Banks appears to believe the former:

I’ve got a message for the Government from the town hall on Queen St in Auckland, the epicentre of the new Greater Auckland Council, and it’s this: Don’t force on us, the ratepayers of greater Auckland … a monstrosity of a development at the bottom of Queen St that the Government would expect us to foot the bill on the first of November this year. Don’t do it. Think carefully, take a decision for common ground and common sense. The people of greater Auckland don’t want this giant bus shelter built on the most magnificent waterfront in the world.

The ARC’s Mike Lee takes the latter view:

I have to say the non-decision taken today has let the people of Auckland down and will open Auckland to ridicule from other parts of New Zealand for flunking this test.

For the first time (and I’m holding my nose as I type this), I agree with Banks. Far from exposing Auckland to ridicule, I think the Mayors have done right by their city. Party central on the Wharf was an ill conceived plan from the start. In typical Key fashion (hello cycleway) the PM attached himself to the idea, made it part of his pretend folksy brand, and then failed to deliver:

Labour Party leader Phil Goff said the Government’s failure to secure agreement on “party central” showed National’s handing of preparations was “a shambles”. … Mr Goff said Mr Key, the Tourism Minister, should take some blame for the project’s failure. “John Key was all for hosting the party, but he didn’t do the work to get it ready.”


42 comments on “Key’s party central fail ”

  1. Rob M 1



    “We are disappointed with the outcome and the continued inability of the elected Mayors across the Auckland Region to agree on a sensible way forward,” he said.

    “We still believe Queen’s Wharf is the right place to host party central for the Rugby World Cup, and the right place for a cruise ship terminal.”

    At the risk of sounding like some sort of cultural woofter, when are we going to wake up and realise that the net financial return of large scale sporting events like the RWC is always negative, and that the feel good factor from these jingoistic extravaganzas doesn’t make up for the dirty great hole they leave in the public purse.
    Key is looking for a diversion from the financial clustercuss that awaits in 2011, softening us up with Rugbyhypnol before the sleazy seduction of his election campaign.
    (Banks is seizing the fiscally responsible ground knowing a govt bailout for Pissup Central is only a mediocre poll away) Gosh I hope the ABs don’t choke.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    My problem with things like “party central” is the bar and restaurant owners of Parnell, Ponsonby, Kingsland, the Viaduct, Takapuna etc etc pay rates 24x7x365 yet whenever a big event turns up there is a push to move the bulk of the punters to a one off special venue. I think that isn’t fair. The RWC should be used to allow EXISTING pub, bar and restaurant owners to make a bit of money.

    • Jenny 2.1

      Good point, Sanctuary
      The corporate gadflys that float around our city, who most of the time infest the regular bars, clubs and restuarants in Auckland and get the most benefit from these venues, think (as in every other endeavour hosted by Aucklanders), that as of right, that they should be the main benificiaries of the RWC, even if it spikes the regular trade.

      Past experience around the yahgting world cup show that by setting up a temporary party central they can stuff it with tempory casual and usually young workers and exploit them to the max, paying them the lowest wages they can get away with, and dumping them all when the event is over.

      I agree with you that “isn’t fair”. I hope you can savour with me the schafen froid, of the collapse of the ‘corporate’s’ plans for Queens Wharf, which as well as allowing them to skim the cream of the RWC trade, they wanted us, the public to pay for.

  3. Santi 3

    Key’s reverse-Midas touch in action again. Will Auckland ever lean?

  4. Jenny 4

    I agree with Sanctuary, who commented on open mike today, about the unfairness that the so called ‘Party Central’ would be for the regular Restaurant and bar trade.

    Who really cares if Auckland’s social horseflys have trouble booking a restaurant table or, shock horror, have to cue outside a bar for the duration of the world cup?

    Do we really need to pay for an expensive special venue for these clothes horses to parade and flounce around in, staffed with low paid casual workers who as well as depressing wages for all other serving staff, will all be dumped when the RWC leaves town.

  5. RedLogix 5

    No wurries gentle folks … the invisible hand of the free market will wave goodly magic pixie dust, NZ will win the RWC, the party will be fabulous and everyone will live happily ever after.

    • Quoth the Raven 5.1

      What on earth has this got to do with the free market Red? I see a government project for a government funded boondoggle falling through.

  6. randal 6

    there will be no party at all if the AB’s lose. perhaps another queen street riot when all the looseheads decide to get their collective rocks off somehow.

  7. gobsmacked 7

    But … but he promised!

    “Party central – it’ll be a place to congregate. There’ll be large TV screens and bars and places for people to come along and celebrate and you can imagine it won’t just be the six weeks of the campaign,” says Prime Minister John Key. (June 2009 – TVNZ)

    He wouldn’t say things like that if they weren’t going to happen, would he? That’s … what’s the word I’m looking for? … dishonest.

    Who’da thunk it?

  8. ghostwhowalksnz 8

    The RWC tourists will be very tribal, I imagine they will set up their ‘own’ enclaves where it suits them.

    Remember the time the First Americas cup was run. A Council funded group set up temporary ‘clubs’ and even a barge for the corporate market. It was big flop which cost the ratepayers millions as the revenue didnt come through.
    Banks is right make some small scale adjustments in the various existing entertainment areas and leave it to the local businesses to drum up business and lose o r win as a result.

  9. As a New Zealander who lives far from Auckland and who doesn’t give a damn about rugby in any form let alone a World Cup of it my only concern is that not one cent of my taxes goes into supporting something that is a money-making opportunity for a few, a feel-good distraction (“let them eat cake”) for the many and hours of meaningless, unavoidable tedium in the media for the rest of us.

    If I were an Aucklander with no stake nor interest in the RWC I’d certainly resent any of my rates being spent on it, and as for what should be done with Queen’s Wharf? Let the people decide what they want and will pay for.

    • Jenny 9.1

      Great idea, D e M,

      Here’s one idea that Aucklanders have been calling out for, for a long time.

      How about a fully integrated ferry and bus terminal on Queens wharf. It is right next to the present overcrowded terminal, and there is certainly more than enough room, since the collapse of the general cargo trade and used car imports stopped landing there.

      As well as a bus terminal on Queens Wharf, there could also be a turn around area for a short free shuttle service to circle to and from the Britomart rail centre.

      This would take pressure off the Britomart centre, especially if ticketing was also integrated, making the use of public transport a much less fraught experience.

      It would certainly beat the scrum like, queues that currently form on the inadequate apron in front of the historic old Ferry Building. It always amazes me that the edge of this crowd always just seems to avoid spilling over into the water.

      Not to mention the matching crowds that presently build up on the footpaths, blocking the footpath and threatening to spill into Quay Street traffic, as they wait for the cross now signal.

      There is also more than enough room for a proper drop off and unloading area for people arriving and departing in cars.

      Opening up Queens Wharf to the public like this, would also make the furthermost reaches of Queens Wharf, (which reaches well into the harbour), available for public leisure.

      The cost of such a scheme would be a fraction of cost off some of the grandiose schemes for Queens Wharf floated around the RWC, but with the added benefit of being a lasting good.

      Does this sound like sense, or am I asking to much of our city’s statesmen and women?

      • felix 9.1.1

        I like the way you’re thinking but what do you mean by “a short free shuttle service to circle to and from the Britomart rail centre.“?

        Isn’t that just over the road?

        • gitmo

          Yes………. What we really need on the wharf is a Saturn 5 rocket launch pad, 3 brothels, a luge track and a veterinary surgery for eels.

          • prism

            Jenny – some sound thinking there. You might break through the fog up there with a some healing sunshine.

            Gitmo – a bright star with ideas of Harry Potter dimensions – keep it up.
            Don’t forget to oil your broomstick.

        • Jenny

          Yes it is just over the road, plus one (small) city block. Mind you, a very wide and busy 4 lanes of traffic road, and then QE2 square. A long way to drag luggage or herd kids.

          A shuttle needn’t be a bus but something smaller that had right of way and could take people (with a little bit of imagination) right into the Britomart centre.

          I was thinking with global warming and all, shouldn’t we try to make public transport as user friendly and hassle free as possible?

          These are just my ponderings.

          Too much?

          • felix

            How about a bridge then? Or a tunnel, seeing as the brit is all underground anyway?

            Walking’s a good thing.

            • QoT

              Felix, without meaning to be snarky, did you miss the “drag luggage or herd kids” bit?

              • felix

                I saw it. But we’re talking about 100 metres.

              • QoT

                100 metres across a busy road herding children, heck throw in a pushchair and multiple items of luggage =/= “talking about 100 metres”.

              • chris

                i’m with felix

              • felix

                When I imagined a tunnel I assumed it would be at least as long as the busy road is wide. Not sure it would be much use otherwise.

                And Jenny, like Armchair Critic I still think it’s a great idea and good to get people thinking about what we could do there instead of hanging around outside drinking piss and watching telly.

            • Jenny

              It may have been a mistake getting tied up in details.

              The main thing was, I was enthused by Deus ex Machina’s comment,
              “Let the people decide what they want and will pay for.”

              So I thought I would put up my own idea.

              My main point being that the vast concrete area, freed up by Queens wharf no longer being used for general cargo or storing second hand cars, would make a perfect place for an integrated bus and ferry interchange, (at very little cost, and of long term benefit to Auckland),

              I will (grudgingly) admit; I may have been stretching my point to far, to imagine linking up my imagined, combined ferry/bus terminal, to the existing train terminal in the Britomart Centre across Quay Street. (this detail may have taken away from my main idea)

              • Armchair Critic

                Nah, it’s a great idea Jenny.
                I’d do it with a tunnel under Quay St, probably with a travelator-thing for the terminally lazy and people with kids/luggage etc.
                Making the links between the various modes of public transport is one of the important things in making it easy to use. Fletchers did the same thing (minus the travelator) between their buildings on either side of Great South Road and that’s a less busy road and a shorter distance.

  10. Zaphod Beeblebrox 10

    How about we spend the money on getting Auckland a proper cricket ground somewhere, so that cricket followers in Auckland can see test cricket again. We have more rugby stadia than we can poke a stick at, more public open space than we will ever need and bars on every corner of downtown/waterfront/Mission Bay/Parnell/Ponsonby.

    Its hardly like a picket fence, practice wicket and stand to accomodate 5-10K people is a big ask.

    Who knows we might be even able to bid for the World Cricket or T20 championship then.

  11. illuminatedtiger 11

    Why should Aucklander’s be funding John Key’s latest piss up?

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