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Dunedin city councillor Dave Cull has used the demise of Fisher and Paykel's manufacturing plant in Mosgiel to launch an attack over the Awatea St stadium, claiming a ‘‘grim'' economic and employment future for the city should spell the end of the project.
But Carisbrook Stadium Trust chairman Malcolm Farry responded by criticising the ‘‘political statement'' when the city was facing such bad news.
In a press release yesterday, Cr Cull said more companies would shut up shop as pressure from lowwage economies, the high New Zealand dollar, a global economic downturn and commodity price rises bit.
The city was facing the ‘‘chill winds of recession'', and there was more pain to come as more workers lost their jobs.
‘‘In light of the economic meltdown this city is facing, I will be calling on my fellow councillors to re-think their stance on this project,'' he said.
‘‘The closure of such a large Dunedin enterprise reinforces the obvious: that this is not the time to be embarking on an enormously risky and hugely expensive feelgood scheme like the stadium, especially when it will show a nil or negative economic return for all our money.
‘‘The stadium will not be an economic driver. It's a feel-good folly, while the city bleeds. Should we be fiddling in a Colosseum while our livelihood goes up in smoke?''
Carisbrook Stadium Trust chairman Malcolm Farry responded by saying the closure was ‘‘far too important an issue for people to make political statements in relation to the stadium.
‘‘I can't even think about the stadium in relation to how devastated I feel about Fisher and Paykel.''
He said the Fisher and Paykel closure meant it was even more important to support the tertiary education sector.
Asked if the economy was in as bad shape as he was suggesting, Cr Cull told the Otago Daily Times he did not think the local economy was in bad shape, but ‘‘the global economy is pretty shaky''.
He said his statement was vindicated later in the day with news of the closure of Tamahine Knitwear.
If Dunedin was a bigger city, the closures would not be as bad, but the coincidence of the two closures was ‘‘catastrophic''.
Mr Farry, chairman of the economic development unit from 1998 to 2000 during his time as a Dunedin city councillor, said the closure dealt ‘‘a significant blow'' to the city, with movements off-shore a major concern for New Zealand.
‘‘It's far too large a problem for the city of Dunedin to be able to resolve.''