Light rail wins Key approval
Key: quake devastation is chance to 'rethink'DAVID WILLIAMS AND NICOLE MATHEWSON
Christchurch Earthquake 2011
Prime Minister John Key is a fan of light rail for earthquake-hit Christchurch, but he is less clear on who should pay for the city's $2 billion rebuild plan.
The Christchurch City Council released its draft plan for rebuilding the central city yesterday.
However, the Government has already been lukewarm on the vision, with Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee calling it a "pretty big wish list".
Today, during his first trip to Christchurch's cordoned red zone for several months, Key said light rail, which is a key part of the council's plan, could be a good idea.
"Yeah, look, there can be a place for rail. Obviously Christchurch has had the trams for a period of time - while they haven't been used as primarily a form of transport,'' he said.
"If there's any good news that comes out of a calamity that's of this scale, is it gives you a chance to rethink where your sporting fixtures are, what your transport methods are, what your buildings should look like.
"You have got some openings here."
Key said the Government was trying to "hold hands" with the people of Christchurch and go through the rebuilding process together.
But he would not say how much the Government was willing to commit to the plan.
He said it was early days and he had seen only initial sketches.
"There is obviously a big cost, but there's also a lot of work to be done, and there's a lot of angles and avenues where that funding can come from," he said.
"We're very committed to the rebuild of Christchurch and the initial plans are exciting."
CHRISTCHURCH BOYS' HIGH VISIT
Earlier today, Key told a group of Christchurch pupils it was an "amazing time" to be growing up in New Zealand.
Key spoke to about 100 young leaders at Christchurch Boys' High School this morning, saying there were "huge opportunities" for young people in New Zealand today.
The burgeoning middle class in Asian nations, such as India, China and Indonesia, along with the continuing rise of the internet, meant New Zealanders had more opportunities to make money.
"They want to buy what New Zealanders make; they want to come visit. There are huge opportunities out there."
Key told the pupils they could achieve and become successful if they had the right attitude.
"Ability helps, but the single most determining factor in whether you'll achieve in your life is attitude."
Those who worked hard and were "determined" would succeed.
Young people were often told they would fail if they made mistakes, but everyone would make mistakes in their lives. The challenge was to learn from them, he said.
WARNING OVER BINGE DRINKING
Key also spoke about New Zealands binge-drinking culture, saying it needed to change or more young people would die.
His son went to King's College in Auckland, where several pupils had died, including 16-year-old James Webster, who died after drinking a bottle of vodka at a party last year.
"A lot of people don't understand the dangers of drinking and don't look after their mates."
The issue was not that young people drank alcohol - as it was legal to drink in New Zealand at any age - but how much they drank, he said.
"We have a binge-drinking culture; we drink to get drunk."
Key said he enjoyed drinking but believed it was important to balance that with a healthy lifestyle overall.
A pupil asked him about the Rugby World Cup and who he thought might take out the coveted trophy.
"I think we're going to win," he said.
Richie McCaw was a "great captain" and this year's team was much more disciplined than those that had played at previous events.
"In 2007 ... they were boozing the night before playing France."
Playing in New Zealand would also give the team an advantage this time, he said.
After the presentation, Key spoke with school staff and took a tour of the school's hostel before travelling to Christchurch's red zone for the launch of the Restart the Heart Cityl Mall project.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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