I move, That the House congratulate Jock Hobbs and his team on winning the rights to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Dozens of people were involved in this bid, and the vast majority of them worked well below the horizon and well below the radar screen of many people in New Zealand and around the world. There were people from the New Zealand Rugby Union and from Sport and Recreation New Zealand, there was an advisory group that David Gascoigne chaired, and Brian Roche and his bid office team, who all made important contributions over the best part of a year. I want to acknowledge the fact that Murray McCully met with the technical advisory group for the cup and made it clear there was a bipartisan approach, or at least major party support for this bid. In fact, the bid was jointly funded by the Government and the Rugby Union and there was a shared underwrite arrangement.
The events of Dublin have been well reported, and I think that, although it is important to acknowledge people, we do not need to go into too much depth. The work Colin Meads did, especially in the 24 hours beforehand—drinking with a lot of people whom he played rugby with over many years—got them into the right position. I see reports that he was uncomfortable speaking to the International Rugby Board because he was not used to speaking without a glass in his hand, but his contribution was valuable. Tana Umaga spoke without notes. I think all of us in Wainuiōmata and the rest of New Zealand are very proud of his contribution and of the way he laid it on the line. Chris Moller made it clear that it was a real commercial bid and outlined that to the International Rugby Board.
People will be aware that the Prime Minister made a real difference. She made a difference months beforehand when she hosted the majority of the International Rugby Board executive to dinner at Premier House. She had a group of All Black captains there as well, and she made the personal connections with the International Rugby Board executive that proved invaluable months on. I think that her contribution is probably best summarised by Jock Hobbs, who said: “The Prime Minister did a wonderful job in terms of stressing the unique partnership that exists between the Government and the NZRU, and their total support for this bid, I believe, gave us a competitive advantage.” The reports that I have had go that far, and Chris Moller said: “If she had not been there, I suspect we would not have won.” I do want to acknowledge and thank the Prime Minister for her contribution.
I think it is very important that we also underline the work that Jock Hobbs did. He was the person who did both the strategy and the tactics. It was he who asked the Prime Minister to go. It was he whom we checked with when the plane broke down and asked: “Is this absolutely vital?”, and he made some calls there. For the second time—he did it a decade ago—he has made an enormous contribution to sport in New Zealand. His talent for working with people, and for putting a group of people together, has made all the difference.
There is a big job, going forward. I remind the House that there are just over 300 weeks until kick-off. I am one person who is looking forward to getting on with the job.
On behalf of the National Party I join the Minister and the Government in congratulating those responsible for the successful bid for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. This is a huge win, not just for New Zealand rugby but for the New Zealand economy and for our ability to profile ourselves on the world stage. I think the recent Lions tour gave us just a small taste of what lies ahead. It is especially pleasing to participate in this motion today, because many of us believe that had we not been successful in procuring the 2011 event, then we would never again have the capacity to get back in the race. That is my personal view.
I pay a special tribute to Jock Hobbs, who, as the Minister has mentioned, has a very high personal standing in the world of rugby. I am absolutely convinced that his personal mana played a very considerable part in the success of the bid. I also want to congratulate all of the others involved in the New Zealand Rugby Union, on the bid committee, and in other agencies involved.
As the Minister has told the House, this was a bid in which the Government was a partner with the Rugby Union. I want to commend the Minister and the Government for making the substantial commitment that was required to that partnership. As the Minister knows, the Government did so with the unambiguous support of the National Party, and I want to tell the House that, as the Minister has informed the House already, when the International Rugby Board officials were in New Zealand prior to the election, wanting to meet separately with the Minister and myself, at his suggestion we conducted that interview together so that we were able to emphasise that in this country rugby is bigger than party politics.
I want to recognise the role played by the Prime Minister, especially the trouble she went to in order to be part of the formal presentation in Dublin. Given the significance of this event to our country I think it was fitting that our Prime Minister should be there, and I want to thank her for making the substantial personal effort that was required to do so.
Finally, the International Rugby Board made it clear when it was here that the appointment of a Minister to take responsibility for the Rugby World Cup would be an important consideration on its part. In view of what I have read in this morning’s newspapers, I guess I should congratulate Mr Mallard—who, if he is not already appointed, is to be appointed to that role. May I reassure the House that given the fact there will be at least one election between now and 2011 there is no shortage of suitable candidates on this side of the House, should any of us be called upon to serve.
As the new spokesperson on sport and recreation for New Zealand First, may I take the opportunity on behalf of New Zealand First to congratulate, firstly, the New Zealand Rugby Union and its team on successfully winning the rights to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. I also take the opportunity to congratulate the Prime Minister on the part she played in that bid, on behalf of New Zealand as a whole.
It is at times like these that New Zealand First truly laments the loss of the titles “Dame” and “Sir”. I can think of no people more deserving to receive the title of “Sir” than Chris Moller and Jock Hobbs, once what will be an absolutely splendid event has taken place and the country has had the opportunity to enjoy having the Rugby World Cup here in our hands, and having had the opportunity to show off the beauty of New Zealand to the 60,000-odd visitors whom we anticipate will grace our shores. The economic windfall for this nation will be huge. The tourism exposure, again, will be massive. More important, the boost in terms of morale to our nation as a whole as we all take the opportunity to show off this country of ours, to show off our proud rugby heritage, will be immeasurable.
I also, if I can be forgiven, just add a note of caution and say that from now until 2011 we also need to focus seriously on our security commitments. It has not escaped me that, although we are a much-favoured little country in the world, there are people whom, no doubt, the Prime Minister’s office and security people will need to be mindful of as we plan and work our way towards this wonderful event.
In closing, I say again that we just wish that in time we could refer to Jock Hobbs and Chris Moller by the titles that they deserve—“Sir Jock” and “Sir Chris”. Our congratulations, once again, to the entire team.
The Green Party joins the previous speakers in congratulating both the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Government—in particular, Helen Clark and Trevor Mallard—on beating the odds and bringing the Rugby World Cup to New Zealand. We all have to do our bit between now and 2011. It is a great opportunity to showcase what is best in New Zealand.
As an Auckland MP, I will have to work with the other MPs from Auckland to make sure that not only is Eden Park up to scratch but our public transport system is humming like an All Black backline so that we get people to the game on time and provide an example to the world. We have to show collectively the same passion, focus, and teamwork that the New Zealand Rugby Union has shown in getting the Rugby World Cup to New Zealand, help it to make this Rugby World Cup a great success, and get our infrastructure in place.
On behalf of the Māori Party I reiterate what we have already published. We give our congratulations to Jock Hobbs and his team on securing the Rugby World Cup to be played in our country. I particularly commend the Prime Minister for her effort, because to get out there as the country’s leader and bid for a particular sport shows that, on this occasion, she is the salt of the earth. I think she has done a magnificent job.
Hosting the Rugby World Cup here will create the opportunity for us to turn the discussion about political correctness into cultural correctness. Hosting the Rugby World Cup will provide us with an opportunity to authentically welcome all the overseas teams to New Zealand with, at least, a pōwhiri in the areas where they will be staying or billeted. That is the least of what we would expect. It would show that New Zealand is prepared to be, and enjoys being, as one with the tangata whenua in accepting aspects of Māori culture, in the same way that we embrace the haka when the team goes on to the field before playing. So for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that I am a rugby fanatic, I look forward to the Rugby World Cup being played here, and thank all those involved.
United Future joins with the other members who have spoken to congratulate Jock Hobbs, Chris Moller, the New Zealand Rugby Union team, and the Prime Minister on their efforts in ensuring that the pleasant news we woke up to on Friday morning was that the Rugby World Cup was coming here. If one had listened to all of the news reports in the preceding days, and particularly to the analysis on the preceding evening, one would not be mistaken in believing that we had absolutely no chance of achieving this particular victory. It was therefore very pleasant news to wake up to on Friday morning. Our heartiest congratulations go to every member of the team who was involved in securing this coup.
Three broad challenges lie ahead of the country now, though, between this point and 2011. The first is the obvious one—to make sure that we are capable of delivering on the commitments that have been made, and that we can achieve a popular, effective, efficient, and widely patronised Rugby World Cup. The second challenge has already begun, and that is the great sense of inter-provincial rivalry that at the moment is reflected in the debate over where the grand final should be held. I put in a great plug for Westpac Stadium. It is a superb ground and it will have an elite crowd there. The third challenge, after all, will be to make sure that having secured the hosting of the cup for New Zealand, we win it in 2011.
On behalf of the ACT party, I rise to congratulate Jock Hobbs and his team, and to make special note of the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, for her efforts on behalf of every New Zealander in winning the rights to host the Rugby World Cup. It is another example of a team continuing against negative comment and succeeding against the odds—and it is fantastic. It will be huge for New Zealand. There will be something like 48 games involving 20 countries across a dozen cities in New Zealand, all played in the space of 6 to 7 weeks. I think we should also—and not without some irony—pay tribute to John Minto and Trevor Richards for their efforts as protesters, because, once South Africa was knocked out, the South African Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Stofile, said that South Africa voted for New Zealand because of the efforts of the New Zealanders who protested in support of their efforts in South Africa, and I do not think that irony should be lost in New Zealand, either.
It is going to be a huge effort and I am sorry to disappoint Mr Dunne, but of course the final will be held in Auckland, the sports, cultural, and commerce capital of New Zealand. It will require a huge effort on behalf of everyone—particularly the Government and particularly this Parliament—to make sure that New Zealand’s infrastructure and Auckland’s infrastructure are up to scratch so that we can indeed have a world cup that we can all be proud of.