Government must rule out using public funds on SkyCity Centre

The Government must rule out asking the taxpayer to cover any additional costs in the building of the SkyCity Convention Centre, the Green Party said today.

SkyCity today applied for resource consent for the International Convention Centre, which it had agreed to build in exchange for law changes that will allow it to massively increase opportunities to gamble at its casino.

Reports suggest the cost may have increased by between $70 and $130 million on top of the $402 million SkyCity has agreed to spend on the centre.

“Aucklanders are already paying for the centre through the carnage that will be wrecked on families by increased opportunities to gamble in the city,” Green Party Auckland spokesperson Denise Roche said.

“It would be even more unacceptable for the Government to come cap in hand to the taxpayer to pay for what’s been pitched to us, up till now, as a ‘free’ centre.

“The pokies-for-convention centre deal was a dog from the beginning.  The centre was always going to be a crass monument to a Government which has its priorities all wrong.

“John Key brokered a deal with Skycity which will allow the casino to massively expand its gilded empire in the centre of Auckland City. Almost all the so-called benefits that convention visitors will bring to Auckland will be consumed by SkyCity and its onsite restaurants, shops and hotels. SkyCity has already announced it will build a new hotel on land previously owned by TVNZ, in order to soak up even more profits from the centre.

“John Key traded the welfare of vulnerable Aucklanders for the interests of his wealthy international friends. He must not be allowed to use public money that would be better spent on hospitals or schools on an expansion of SkyCity’s Auckland empire,” Ms  Roche said.