Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister of Internal Affairs) : Labour is desperate to get back in the game—absolutely desperate. What we have heard this afternoon is more desperation from Labour members, with their rock-bottom polling results. They are worried about their marginal seats, like that of the previous speaker, Mr Twyford, in Te Atatū. So what are they doing? They are raking over a few of the issues that happened during the opening of the Rugby World Cup, and they are forgetting about all the positive aspects of the Rugby World Cup. They are raking in the mire, trying to score political points and shore up a few votes in the marginal seats of Auckland, in the last dying days of this sitting of Parliament before we move into the true campaign. But I have some news for Labour members: no one is listening to them. Not one person in Auckland is listening to them.
Let us move to some of the positive things. I was there at the opening. It was fantastic. I tell members that we showed what a fantastic culture we have. We showed our Māori and Pacific heritage; we showed the pride we have in sport and also in winning. The fantastic thing is that this was broadcast to over 200 countries around the world. Was it not fantastic when the Prime Minister got up to speak? Practically the whole of Eden Park roared with joy. I thought that was fantastic.
What we are hearing this afternoon from Labour is just what we heard when we had the debate over The Hobbit. They hate The Hobbit; now they are rugby haters. They hate The Hobbit and they hate the Rugby World Cup. What they should think about, in relation to just the first couple of days after the opening ceremony in Auckland, is the fact that it has generated, for retailers up and down the country, $2.8 million of foreign transactions over 3 days—in just 3 days. We all know that we are going to have a huge stimulus from the Rugby World Cup. Yet in the last 2½ to 3 years all we have heard from the other side of the House was: “Where are the jobs? Where’s the stimulation? Where is the regional economic development?”. Now they want to tear down the Rugby World Cup and stamp all over it. They should be ashamed.
Let us think about some of the positives that came out of that opening. April Ieremia wrote in the New Zealand Herald: “better than Olympics … a phenomenal opening ceremony, … I have been to a number of Olympic and Commonwealth Games … and it surpassed them all.” Even the Daily Telegraph had a headline, which read: “Kiwis light up night on and off the pitch”. There is already a sense of carnival taking place.
Yes, there were some issues, and I will talk about those now. I think it is appropriate that the Rugby World Cup Authority steps in and works closely with the council, and with Auckland Transport as well. Yes, there were some issues. Yes, we need to open up more capacity at the waterfront. Yes, there were some issues in transport that have now been addressed. Moving forward, they will be tested this weekend. There will be an extra hundred buses, 400 extra security staff—moving that to a hundred at Britomart—which will be really important, and extra security on those trains. Yes, there is a message that has come out of this: we need to look at getting tourists and New Zealanders to Eden Park in a multi-model system. They cannot expect just to get on trains, because when the trains stop it means that the network stops. So we have to think about getting on the buses also, utilising the trains, and using private vehicles. In some cases tourists and New Zealanders will choose to walk to the ground.
There are a couple of other things that I will conclude with. It is not often that I agree with Trevor Mallard, but this afternoon when I heard him speaking I did agree with one thing. He said that the cultural festival was a damn fine job, and well done to them. I presume what Trevor Mallard was mentioning was the REAL New Zealand Festival. The Lotteries Commission gave $9.5 million to get that off the ground, which is fantastic. It was oversubscribed: there were $74 million worth of applications, and 170 applications were chosen. Up and down the country now we see New Zealanders engaging with the Rugby World Cup, and Rugby World Cup tourists getting off the highway and engaging with provincial New Zealand, and getting involved in some of the activities that are happening from the Far North down to the bottom of the South. They are things like A Taste of Southland, the Whitianga Scallop Festival, and the celebrations in the giant rugby ball that is up in Auckland—these fantastic activities.
Labour wants to tear down the Rugby World Cup and trample all over it. On this side of the House we want to embrace it. We want to celebrate that a hundred thousand tourists are in New Zealand. We will ensure that these issues are sorted out for New Zealanders, and for our visitors. We should be celebrating the biggest event in this country, not dragging it down into a cesspit as Labour wants to do.