Govt hands casino bosses the last trump card

The National Government has just handed SkyCity the last trump card in its convention centre deal, delivering the casino complete control over the centre, removing any last pretence that it’s a public facility, the Green Party said today.

The Government and SkyCity today released a preliminary design on the convention centre, in which the casino has bought off the Government for millions of dollars so the public will have no more influence over the building or design of the facility.

“Steven Joyce has lost control of the negotiations. He has been fleeced by the casino and the tax payer is paying the bill.,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

“Today’s announcement includes a number of major changes in the casino’s favour.

“These include a smaller convention centre with capacity for less guests, but space for shops, restaurants and car parks that weren’t allowed under the previous agreement.

“Crucially, the casino now has complete control over the design from this point on. The Government has agreed to cede full control over the design and build to the casino leaving New Zealanders at the mercy of anything the casino bosses have planned for the prime piece of Auckland land in the future.

“This is no longer New Zealand’s international convention centre, it is a SkyCity conference centre, glitzy new hotel and massively expanded casino business, all subsidised by the tax payer.

“These concessions are the latest win for the casino which has already managed to swindle a new five start hotel on former public land out of the taxpayer and a 35 year licence to prey on vulnerable people, with vastly increased opportunities to gamble.

“SkyCity must be laughing behind John Key and Steven Joyce’s backs. Under this new deal the casino has carte blanche to build what it likes, while getting more concessions than the casino bosses would ever have dreamed of.

“Economic analysis of convention visitors shows that almost all the money that any international convention generates will be soaked up by SkyCity in its expanded casino, its new restaurants and shops and its new, five star hotel.

“The Government should not be in the business of subsidising profitable companies to build conference facilities and hotels that they are the primary benefactors of.

“The New Zealand International Convention Centre will go down in history as the worst example of Government bumbling and incompetence ever seen on the commercial stage.

“This deal is an international embarrassment and a local disaster. John Key and Steven Joyce have tried to swim with the sharks, but they’ve been made a meal of, along with the rest of us,” Mrs Turei said.