Written By: - Date published: 7:56 am, May 13th, 2013 - 50 comments
Categories: accountability, capitalism, child welfare, corruption, democracy under attack, john key, Public Private Partnerships, same old national, slippery, Steven Joyce - Tags: gambling, pokies
So John Key’s (and Stephen Joyce’s) National party made sure Gilmore was out of the way before they announced their dubious Sky City for (more) pokies deal. The pokies system in NZ is rife with dubious goings on. An article this morning on Stuff, reports on Joyce’s announcement on RNZ:
A $350 million deal to supply Sky City Casino with more pokies in exchange for a national convention centre is set to be formally announced today.
The controversial deal will see Sky City build and operate a national convention centre in exchange for changes to existing laws over the operation of casinos.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce confirmed on Radio NZ this morning the deal would see more pokie machines at the casino.
The article recaps that a report by Deputy Auditor-General Phillippa Smithon the Sky City deal stated there was:
… lack of documentation and analysis for the procurement process.
There was too much focus on the politics and commercial interest and not enough on proper process, Smith’s report said.
“Although decisions were made on the merits of the different proposals, we do not consider that the evaluation process was transparent or even handed.”
Pokies are about the most addictive form of gambling. I posted before on the problems of NZ’s pokie industry in Pokies and corruption. I’ll repeat my comments, without the quotes from articles:
How deep does it go?
Steve Kilgallon, in today’s Stuff [31 March 2013], is reporting that evidence of wrong doing by Pokie trusts, presented to Internal Affairs mysteriously went missing. The article, perhaps necessarily because of lack of evidence, provides the most positive slant on the disappearance, putting it down to sloppiness.
It is all a bit murky. But back in November 2010 shortly after the investigation began, Graeme Ramsey of the Problem Gambling Foundation predicted there was more evidence of abuse of the funding of Pokies trusts to come.
It seems like some in the pokie industry have a lot of influence and a long reach. Some in this industry benefited from John Key and Steven Joyce’s SkyCity convention centre deal. The deal was made through flawed processes, as argued by the Green Party:
The end result of this flawed process was a deal that would include an increase in SkyCity pokie machines. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of children are left unattended around SkyCity’s gambling areas.
Significant International Affairs files going missing, deals made through flawed government processes.
So NZ is not a corrupt country, then, just one governed through sloppy processes?
[update: responses, opposition]
As reported by Adam Bennett and John Armstrong in the NZ Herald (Dunne will vote for the enabling Bill and the Maori Party against). Planned “harm minimisation” procedures may be inadequate, and
Labour Leader David Shearer last night said his party objected to the deal on two ground.
The first was that it was “a shonky process”.
“Obviously there was a backroom deal done between John Key and and his mates at SkyCity,” he said.
“Secondly, I personally find it objectionable to build a convention centre effectively on the backs of problem gamblers.”
TVNZ reports, that there is still a question mark over the TVNZ land require for the convention centre site:
“John Key keeps saying this deal is good because it’s essentially free. The cost of the deal is the social harms caused by increased gambling,” said Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei.
She added Key “has got a lot of political capital riding on this deal happening and he is going to ram it through regardless”.
“I think SkyCity wants that land for free. I think they want this as part of the deal and that is the a cost to the Government and the public,” Turei said.