web analytics

Re-run: SkyCity’s convention centre would need $10m+ subsidies – MED

Written By: - Date published: 11:22 am, February 21st, 2013 - 15 comments
Categories: business, capitalism - Tags: , ,

A year ago, I wrote that SkyCity was pursuing the dirty practice of ‘subvention’ – where owners of white elephant infrastructure extort governments for subsidies – for the convention centre. The msm has caught up and is reporting on it now. MED is denying there will be any subvention, but Joyce says it’s all on the table. And what about the $10m+ in operating subsidies the centre would need?

————————————————————————————————

Key’s selling our gambling law to SkyCity in return for a ‘free’ convention centre with no government capital contribution. But, according to the MED, we taxpayers would be subsidising that convention centre with $10m for starters. Plus marketing costs. And, then, ongoing subsidies both if convention numbers fall short and as a kickback when it does bring in conventions.

We know that an international convention centre will never generate a return on the capital invested in it. Which is why no private organisation will do it without the government chipping in money, or doing it legislative favours.

But, the convention centre will, at least, cover its own running costs, won’t it?

Nope. MED’s feasibility study says that an international convention centre would need $10 million of operating subsidies in its first 6 years. Remember, this isn’t about capital costs, which SkyCity is agreeing to pay in full as the price for buying our gambling law. Here’s what MED says:

“it is assumed that the centre’s operating costs will break even. However, in the pre-opening phase, and initial years while the centre is establishing itself, it is likely that operational subsidies will be required. These have been assumed as:
• $2.0 million per annum in each of the three years before opening, for setting up operations and initial
marketing
• $2.9 million in the first year after opening
• $1.4 million in the second year after opening
• $0.5 million in the third year after opening”

On top of that, Tourism New Zealand would be expected to pay for the centre’s marketing:

“Tourism New Zealand, Tourism Auckland and CINZ for example will undoubtedly be active convention marketers.”

Yay! More subsidies. [Important reminder: we can’t afford to extend paid parental leave]

And it gets worse.

See, the fundamental problem with building a great big fuck-off international convention centre in the most isolated country on Earth is that nobody’s going to want to host an international convention centre there. And the other fundamental problem is that there’s already lots of international convention centres, all of them competing for a decreasing number of international conventions.

MED recognises risks – potentially leading to bailouts on top of the subsidies already mentioned – for an international convention centre in the form of a weak global economy (amusingly it says this shouldn’t be a problem because the centre won’t be built until after 2011, by which time everything will be better), increased use of tele-presence, and environmental concerns about flying thousands of people around for what are, invariably, pretty pointless events.

What’s important to recognise is that, while those risks affect all convention centres, they would affect a new Auckland International Convention Centre more than any of its competitors in the rest of the world. This is handsomely illustrated by the fact that, while the number of international conventions worldwide fell 5% between 2008 and 2010, the number in New Zealand fell 40%.

Every year the convention centre doesn’t make the revenue expected, SkyCity will be wanting a handout to keep it going.

But really the crazy thing is this: MED sees SkyCity getting subsidies for hosting conventions too.

Say a few international convention centre organisers are batshit crazy enough to fly 3,500 people to the most isolated country on Earth when there are perfectly good, cheaper alternatives, to a city that doesn’t even have a rail link to its airport, or one to the site of the convention centre. Well, then, there’s insidious idea called ‘subvention’. It goes ‘we’ve got this crappy convention centre that sits empty most of the time but when people come from overseas for conventions here they also spend money on accommodation, gambling, food, hookers, and sometimes they do some tourist stuff too, we don’t provide all those services in our business, but we want the profits’. Or, in MED’s language, ‘subvention (incentive) policies recognise the economic value of conferences to host destinations.’

So, SkyCity would continually have its hand out for more public money as kickbacks.

Subvention works because the convention owner can always threaten to close up, leaving the government with massive empty halls and a whole lot of unneeded associated public infrastructure in the middle of a major city and deny the government some revenue from tourism. The convention centre owners internalise the wider economic benefits of convention centres into their own profits by holding a gun to the government’s head.

It’s interesting to reflect at this juncture on where the term ‘white elephant’ comes from. In Thailand and Burma, white elephants were considered possessions that brought great prestige to their owner (it’s all to do with Buddha). Of course, elephants eat a lot, which is expensive and prestige-bearing objects would require special care, meaning extra expense. Usually, an elephant paid its way doing heavy labour but it was illegal to make a white elephant work. So, the King would give enemies a white elephant. It denoted prestige, but it weakened them in the way that counted, by being an expensive burden.

Do we need or want to have a huge ‘prestige’ project in Auckland that we will have to continually subsidise because it can’t pay its way? And is it worth selling our gambling law, creating more gambling addicts, and inflicting more crime and social costs on our community to get it?

15 comments on “Re-run: SkyCity’s convention centre would need $10m+ subsidies – MED”

  1. Rogue Trooper 1

    Joker’s Wild (Excellent Article Eddie)

  2. Te Reo Putake 2

    Great article, EDDIE, Subvention is going to be my word of the day. An article just up on the NZH websites confirms that Key was being more than a little optimistic yesterday when he said Skycity and TVNZ had done a deal on land for the convention hall. They haven’t, despite Key’s repeated claims to the contrary.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10866808

  3. excellent article. the aluminium smelter people are trying their own variation on the same scam here and in northern australia(and probably everywhere else). its a variation on the old privatise the profits,socialise the losses trick. right about now you will have some right wingers on here , trying hard to distact people with the old change the subject, cause an argument rort.

  4. vto 4

    More welfare for the corporate sector.

    As a taxpayer I am sick and tired of having my taxes going towards free-lodaing bludging businesses.

    Like farmers.
    Like the NZX.
    Like Mediaworks
    Like finance companies

    Bloody bludgers

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      +1

      Biggest bludgers around are the rich and they’re the ones that this government is governing for which is why they keep giving the bludgers more of our money.

  5. marsman 5

    Thanks EDDIE. Two days ago on James Henderson’ post about the SkyCity Scam I commented:

    ‘And if the thing does not make enough profit for Sky City the taxpayer gives them a top-up. Nice when you are spending other peoples’ money John Key.’

    That comment was replied to by ‘swan’ with: ‘Link?’

    Hello swan.

  6. Treetop 6

    Key and his government want a convention centre funded by exploiting pokie addicts. This tells me how disconnected the man is when it comes to being a worthy leader.

    HOW DISRESPECTFUL.

  7. Afewknowthetruth 7

    Peak Oil = death knell for tourism. No wonder ‘nobody’ wants to talk about it.

  8. Lanthanide 8

    Mass-market tourism, certainly.

  9. Ed 9

    I must admit to being confused. The MED cost / benefit analysis for the Auckland Council appeared to assume that teh convention centre would be wholly owned and paid for by the Council (or the government). Now there seems to be talk of Sky building the convention centre “free” (but being goven by a law change pokie licenses), but now the assumption seems to be that the centre would then be owned by Sky (possibly with land being purchased of an SOE at mates rates but that’s not clear), with all profits going to Sky. That may still bring tourism benefits to Auckland (subject to assumptions about number of extra visitors) which my have some value, but its not clear whether the projected subsidies are now to be paid by Sky.

    When Key tells us we are getting something free, I’d like to know who is we, who is paying, who benefits and who is worse off.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Andrew Little visits Zaatari refugee camp
    Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Little, has visited the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world, Zaatari in Jordan, a day after seeing New Zealand troops at Camp Taji in Iraq. Mr Little spent several hours in the camp, meeting… ...
    8 hours ago
  • Com Com’s Z Energy decision anti-competitive
    The Commerce Commission’s decision to allow Z Energy to buy Caltex can only undermine the competition in the fuel industry that is needed to ensure New Zealanders pay the lowest price for petrol, Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.… ...
    17 hours ago
  • Com Com’s Z Energy decision anti-competitive
    The Commerce Commission’s decision to allow Z Energy to buy Caltex can only undermine the competition in the fuel industry that is needed to ensure New Zealanders pay the lowest price for petrol, Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.… ...
    17 hours ago
  • OAG raps Govt over the knuckles on HNZ contracts
    The Government has been rapped over the knuckles by the Auditor General over its failure to properly manage $2.3m of contracts and conflicts of interest in relation to a merchant banker advising them on the state house sell-off, says Labour’s… ...
    1 day ago
  • OAG raps Govt over the knuckles on HNZ contracts
    The Government has been rapped over the knuckles by the Auditor General over its failure to properly manage $2.3m of contracts and conflicts of interest in relation to a merchant banker advising them on the state house sell-off, says Labour’s… ...
    1 day ago
  • Brownlee must step in as EQC spin exposed
    Gerry Brownlee needs to step in after EQC’s desperate spin in the wake of yesterday’s landmark settlement has been exposed by its own documents, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Yesterday’s settlement showed that thousands of homes may not have… ...
    1 day ago
  • Brownlee must step in as EQC spin exposed
    Gerry Brownlee needs to step in after EQC’s desperate spin in the wake of yesterday’s landmark settlement has been exposed by its own documents, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Yesterday’s settlement showed that thousands of homes may not have… ...
    1 day ago
  • OIO must explain Argentine pollution prosecutions
    The Overseas Investment Office (OIO)has questions to answer about how it safeguarded our sensitive land by allowing foreign investors with criminal prosecutions to purchase Onetai Station in Taranaki, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe.   “Rafael and Federico Grozovsky… ...
    2 days ago
  • Aussie banks in NZ should ban lending to offshore buyers
    ASB, Westpac and ANZ must confirm whether or not they will continue to fund the over-heated property market by lending to non-resident offshore home buyers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This issue has arisen because their parent banks have… ...
    2 days ago
  • Aussie banks in NZ should ban lending to offshore buyers
    ASB, Westpac and ANZ must confirm whether or not they will continue to fund the over-heated property market by lending to non-resident offshore home buyers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This issue has arisen because their parent banks have… ...
    2 days ago
  • Murray McCully needs to come clean over Tokelau ferry debacle
    Foreign Minister Murray McCully needs to come clean on why a New Zealand aid-funded vessel intended to service the Tokelau Islands is delayed, over budget and failed its sea trials, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “The new ship… ...
    2 days ago
  • Full independent inquiry needed to save New Zealand’s reputation
    Revelations that John Key's personal lawyer and trust advisor led a lobbying campaign to shut down a review of New Zealand's foreign trust regime makes the case for a full scale independent inquiry a matter of urgency, Labour's Finance spokesperson… ...
    2 days ago
  • Full independent inquiry needed to save New Zealand’s reputation
    Revelations that John Key's personal lawyer and trust advisor led a lobbying campaign to shut down a review of New Zealand's foreign trust regime makes the case for a full scale independent inquiry a matter of urgency, Labour's Finance spokesperson… ...
    2 days ago
  • Andrew Little visits NZ troops in Iraq and refugees in Jordan
    Opposition Leader Andrew Little has visited New Zealand troops at Camp Taji, Iraq. Mr Little also met with Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled Al-Obedih and senior military officials from the Coalition forces in Iraq. He now heads to Jordan to see… ...
    2 days ago
  • Workplace death toll still too high
    It’s a damning indictment on the Government that as workers gather to remember their lost workmates on Worker’s Memorial Day, New Zealand’s workplace death toll is still far too high, Labour’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “At… ...
    3 days ago
  • Workplace death toll still too high
    It’s a damning indictment on the Government that as workers gather to remember their lost workmates on Worker’s Memorial Day, New Zealand’s workplace death toll is still far too high, Labour’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “At… ...
    3 days ago
  • Minister must come clean on implications of landmark settlement
    Gerry Brownlee has urgent and serious questions to answer in the wake of today’s landmark EQC settlement, which potentially has major implications for thousands of Cantabrians, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. ...
    3 days ago
  • Mossack Fonseca links to OIO approvals must be investigated
    The Minister for Land Information must investigate and disclose how many applications to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) have links to Mossack Fonseca, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe. “Labour can now reveal the OIO approved an application from… ...
    3 days ago
  • Mossack Fonseca links to OIO approvals must be investigated
    The Minister for Land Information must investigate and disclose how many applications to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) have links to Mossack Fonseca, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe. “Labour can now reveal the OIO approved an application from… ...
    3 days ago
  • Govt complacency leaves RB no room to cut
    The Government has put the economy in a holding pattern, leaving the Reserve Bank Governor with little room to manoeuvre as he tries to balance a rampant housing market with non-existent inflation, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler… ...
    3 days ago
  • Govt complacency leaves RB no room to cut
    The Government has put the economy in a holding pattern, leaving the Reserve Bank Governor with little room to manoeuvre as he tries to balance a rampant housing market with non-existent inflation, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler… ...
    3 days ago
  • Dam not out of doldrums yet
    Ruataniwha Dam promoters Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) still has hurdles to clear and a lot of work to do before ratepayers and taxpayers will have confidence in the scheme, says Labour’s MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Meka Whaitiri.“We need sustainable… ...
    3 days ago
  • New study shows Smith’s insulation fails Kiwi kids
    A new Otago University study shows Nick Smith’s inadequate insulation standards will see hundreds of children unnecessarily hospitalised for housing-related illnesses every year, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. ...
    3 days ago
  • Government out of touch on foreign trusts
    John Key’s poor handling of the foreign trusts issue is starkly revealed in a poll today which shows the majority of Kiwis are worried about the country being a tax haven and almost half think the issue has been badly… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government out of touch on foreign trusts
    John Key’s poor handling of the foreign trusts issue is starkly revealed in a poll today which shows the majority of Kiwis are worried about the country being a tax haven and almost half think the issue has been badly… ...
    3 days ago
  • Biggest trade deficit for 7 years a warning for Govt
    The biggest trade deficit for seven years shows the Government can’t be so complacent about the economy and must take action to diversify and encourage exports, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The biggest driver has been the fall in… ...
    3 days ago
  • Biggest trade deficit for 7 years a warning for Govt
    The biggest trade deficit for seven years shows the Government can’t be so complacent about the economy and must take action to diversify and encourage exports, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The biggest driver has been the fall in… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government’s record on climate change under fire
      The Royal Society’s latest report on climate change has made it clear that it believes the Government’s current approach to climate change is inadequate, says Labour’s spokesperson on Climate Change Megan Woods.  “The report, ‘Transition to a low-carbon economy… ...
    4 days ago
  • Government’s record on climate change under fire
      The Royal Society’s latest report on climate change has made it clear that it believes the Government’s current approach to climate change is inadequate, says Labour’s spokesperson on Climate Change Megan Woods.  “The report, ‘Transition to a low-carbon economy… ...
    4 days ago
  • Mainfreight director agrees with Labour on rail funding
    Richard Prebble – in the past accused of ruining rail and now a director of Mainfreight – agrees with Labour that secure funding for KiwiRail is the best way to minimise congestion in our major cities, says Labour’s SOEs spokesperson… ...
    4 days ago
  • Mainfreight director agrees with Labour on rail funding
    Richard Prebble – in the past accused of ruining rail and now a director of Mainfreight – agrees with Labour that secure funding for KiwiRail is the best way to minimise congestion in our major cities, says Labour’s SOEs spokesperson… ...
    4 days ago
  • Government to Reserve Bank – Rock or Hard Place?
    The Government’s complacency on the housing crisis and the economy has put the Reserve Bank Governor in a no-win position as he contemplates the OCR tomorrow, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler is stuck between a rock and… ...
    4 days ago
  • Government to Reserve Bank – Rock or Hard Place?
    The Government’s complacency on the housing crisis and the economy has put the Reserve Bank Governor in a no-win position as he contemplates the OCR tomorrow, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler is stuck between a rock and… ...
    4 days ago
  • John Key’s land tax could push up rents
    A land tax proposed by John Key as the answer to the housing crisis could push up rents and risks having no effect on skyrocketing prices, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Government needs to explain why the thousands… ...
    4 days ago
  • Government should ban foreign speculators
    The Prime Minister’s musings about a land tax on non-resident buyers is just more tinkering, and the Government should just ban foreign speculators as the Australian Government has done, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This is classic John Key.… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government must protect Pharmac as promised
    John Key must tell New Zealanders that he will not bow to pressure from wealthy drug companies or their US negotiators and put Kiwi lives at risk, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.   “News reports today have the drug… ...
    5 days ago
  • Action not words, needed on housing speculation
    John Key should be taking action to crack down on speculation in our overheated housing market, instead of random musings on land tax, Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said.  "John Key suggested today on TVNZ's Q and A programme that… ...
    6 days ago
  • Tertiary education cost rising 7x faster than inflation
    New figures show the cost of tertiary education is rising seven times faster than inflation, putting post-school education out of the reach of many, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.  “Figures release this week show how much more students or their… ...
    7 days ago
  • Buying Lotto is not an arts funding strategy
    The Government must rethink the way the arts are funded after falling Lotto sales has left the sector with declining resources and increasingly vulnerable, Labour’s Arts, Culture and Heritage spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.  “Our arts sector is in a sorry… ...
    7 days ago
  • Parents hit in pocket by Government under-funding
    Parents and families are left forking out more and more for their kids’ education as a direct result of Government under-funding, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.  “The latest data shows that the cost to families of primary and secondary… ...
    7 days ago
  • Scientists ‘gasping for oxygen’ under National
     Steven Joyce's claims to be creating a science and innovation hub in New Zealand are a sham based on PR fluff, says Labour's Science and Innovation Spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “A damning critique of the science funding model by the New… ...
    1 week ago
  • Scientists ‘gasping for oxygen’ under National
     Steven Joyce's claims to be creating a science and innovation hub in New Zealand are a sham based on PR fluff, says Labour's Science and Innovation Spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “A damning critique of the science funding model by the New… ...
    1 week ago
  • Water for grass
    Last Saturday, my colleague Eugenie Sage took me for a drive across the Canterbury Plains. I had seen from the air the landuse changes across the plains in recent times; a patchwork of crops and stock raising has been transformed… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Water for grass
    Last Saturday, my colleague Eugenie Sage took me for a drive across the Canterbury Plains. I had seen from the air the landuse changes across the plains in recent times; a patchwork of crops and stock raising has been transformed… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Thousands of invalid votes likely after National refuses to change rules
    National’s refusal to make it easier to enrol and vote could result in tens of thousands of votes continuing to be ruled invalid at general elections, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. The Justice and Electoral select committee today released… ...
    1 week ago
  • Social Development stats don’t add up
    Today’s figures released by the Ministry of Social Development show that despite a drop in the number of beneficiaries, fewer people are going into paid employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    1 week ago
  • Fonterra sticks with high pollution goal of increasing milk supply
    This week’s reported comments by Fonterra chair John Wilson that dairy “volumes were only going to keep increasing”  are troubling. Mr Wilson was supporting a potential renegotiation of the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Under the FTA dairy products such… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Coleman’s ‘efficiencies’ strangling health
    New Zealand’s district health boards have made ‘efficiencies’ of more than $672 million over the past five years at the expense of everything from new drugs to elective surgery, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “This is a body blow for… ...
    1 week ago
  • Coleman’s ‘efficiencies’ strangling health
    New Zealand’s district health boards have made ‘efficiencies’ of more than $672 million over the past five years at the expense of everything from new drugs to elective surgery, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “This is a body blow for… ...
    1 week ago
  • Record debt to income ratio shows economy out of balance
    National’s complacent attitude to debt to income ratios rising above pre-financial crisis levels will be a concern to many New Zealanders and the Government must take action to rebalance the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.   “The borrowing… ...
    1 week ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere