It’s not too late – cancel the Pokies for Convention Centre deal

John Key should pull the plug on his SkyCity Convention Centre deal as the costs of it blow out and Ministers now suggest Auckland Council could pick up the running tab, the Green Party says.

Economic Development Minster Steven Joyce this morning said one option for funding the cost blow-out of the SkyCity Convention Centre was to ask Auckland ratepayers to fund its operating costs.

“The wheels have fallen off the Government’s pet project. It’s a financial flop,” Green Party Auckland spokesperson Denise Roche said.

“This deal was a dog from the beginning, now we are seeing that the agreement was so poorly drafted that the Government has left New Zealanders exposed to the financial risks of a massive cost blow out.

“John Key’s pet project is falling apart around him, and now the Casino bosses are cashing in their chips. At every turn, SkyCity has managed to extract more and more out of New Zealanders over this dirty deal, who knows what risks lie ahead?

“John Key should do the decent thing and cancel the deal before it’s too late.

“The Auckland City Council voted against this deal. Aucklanders hate it and the idea ratepayers would foot for the running of the centre, so SkyCity can profit off convention goers, is revolting.

“That SkyCity might have a legitimate call on the taxpayer to pay for their centre highlights how flawed the deal was from the beginning.

“Who did John Key think he was negotiating a key piece of infrastructure for Auckland over a cosy meal with casino bosses?

“Steven Joyce has really stuffed up these negotiations. It’s not too late to cancel the agreement and to start again and seek tenders for a Convention Centre that Aucklanders want  - an affordable centre that’s not built on the misery of problem gambling,” Ms Roche said.