McCully defends RWC waterfront takeover

The decision that the Government take control of Auckland's waterfront following Friday's RWC opening chaos had been discussed as early as Monday.

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully announced yesterday that the Government would take over to try to avoid a repeat of Friday's problems, in which thousands more people than expected poured into downtown Auckland for the World Cup opening celebrations.

Mr McCully has been criticised for not informing Auckland Mayor Len Brown about the takeover until after the announcement was made.

Mr McCully told Radio New Zealand today that government officials spoke to Auckland City officials on Monday about the proposal.

"I've got a whole range of officials who work on our side, and a whole range who work on the Auckland City side and I thought getting chief executive to chief executive was a very good way of getting our whole systems plugged into each other.''

It was clear the Government had to get some consents in place to avoid a repeat of last Friday night, he said.

"I rang the Mayor of Auckland myself when it became clear to me yesterday after I made my media comments he hadn't been fully cited, and frankly I was surprised he hadn't been,'' he said.

In announcing the Government's takeover yesterday, Mr McCully said the ball had been dropped and the Government needed to step in to fix the situation.

Mr Brown told TV3's Campbell Live last night that Auckland City and the Government "share equal responsibility for the glory and the grief.''

He said that included Friday night.

He denied Auckland City was working unilaterally prior to Friday, and said everything the council had done was in collaboration with the Government and with the Government's full knowledge of what was going on.


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