Can this year get any worse for Key? I’m starting to feel sorry for the guy. In latest news:
Auditor-General to probe Sky City deal
The Government’s controversial deal with SkyCity casinos for a $350m national convention centre will be investigated by the auditor-general’s office.
The announcement comes as yet another blow to the Government, which in the last five days has backtracked on its plans for teachers and started a clean out of the under-fire senior management of ACC. …
Deputy Auditor-General Phillippa Smith said the inquiry would consider the process for seeking and assessing proposals for the convention centre, the adequacy of the assessment of the likely costs and benefits of each and any other matters deemed of interest. …
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, who requested the investigation, said the Government could ”not possibly proceed with the SkyCity deal” while the inquiry was going ahead, because its terms of reference ”cut to the heart of the decision to award the contract to SkyCity in the first place”.
“I raised concerns about the fairness and adequacy of the process, especially given SkyCity was offered a law change that gave it more pokies in exchange for building the centre, and the deal didn’t appear to consider the huge social and financial costs of increased gambling.”
Questions were raised about the deal’s fairness after it emerged Prime Minister John Key discussed the idea with SkyCity bosses in a private dinner meeting in November 2009, before the field was opened to expressions of interest from other possible bidders in March 2010.
The late Infratil founder Lloyd Morrison personally wrote to Key urging a proposal for a Public Private Partnership for the centre – similar to one his company had set up in Melbourne – but was ignored. …
Key had touted the deal as providing a $90m boost to the economy and generating 1000 jobs during its construction and 800 jobs to run the centre. However, those figures were last week challenged by the public release of a feasibility study done by hospitality and travel consultants Horwath, which showed the centre could provide as little as 319 long-term jobs.
Further coverage on ONE News:
ONE News Political Editor Corin Dann said the move was another “big set back” for the Government, following last week’s back down on cuts to the education sector.
“It’s a set back for the Prime Minister as well because it’s his ‘pet project’ really. “He’s always been up front about the fact that he thought SkyCity was the only operator that could do this in a way that wouldn’t cost the Government money.”
The enquiry is well justified. Key’s actions have the smell of law for sale. Metiria Turei is correct, the deal should now be put on hold while the enquiry goes ahead.