PM backs Christchurch city asset sales

John Key
John Key
A world-class covered sports stadium in Christchurch would be funded by a partial sale of the city's assets if Prime Minister John Key had his way.

The Government has pledged $15 billion to rebuilding the earthquake-ravaged Canterbury region, which now has an estimated cost of $30-$40 billion.

But Mr Key today said Christchurch City Council also had to come to the party if all of the anchor projects included in the city's inner city blueprint were to go ahead.

The council's only options of funding projects like a new sports stadium, to either borrow cash, significantly raise rates, or to ``change its asset mix''.

"The only other option available to it is that it doesn't actually embark on some of the projects it might want to embark on,'' Mr Key said today (Wed.).

"In the end Cantabrians will have to have a say on what they think is the right mix.''

The Government had reached a view that by selling part of its assets, like Mighty River Power and Meridian, it could then redeploy that money "better somewhere else``, Mr Key said.

He suggested that might be a "very sensible outcome'' for Cantabrians, otherwise plans for projects like the covered stadium may have to be scaled back.

"I actually personally hold the view that for Canterbury, where you love sport, happen to be pretty darn good at it, and have climatic conditions that argue that a covered stadium might make sense, then actually it could be a really sensible thing to do.

'' And if it was up to me I would make that choice in a heartbeat if it meant changing the mix of assets, but I understand for lots of other people they might not hold that view.''

The tragedy of the quakes had given Christchurch the opportunity to rebuild as the most liveable city in Australasia, he said.

"This is the chance to get it right. I just urge everyone to think that through,'' Mr Key said.

"There is the opportunity to have some quite fantastic facilities here.

"The Government is quite happy to step up and put $15bn in, and there is a limit as to how much we can put in, and some of it must come from the council.''

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