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A-G reveals details of Nats’ dirty deal with SkyCity

Written By: - Date published: 3:07 pm, February 19th, 2013 - 129 comments
Categories: corruption - Tags: , ,

The Auditor-General’s report catalogues a dirty deal hatched between Key’s office and SkyCity execs to give SkyCity more pokies ‘in return for’ a convention centre. It shows the bidding process was a farce and reveals that the whole ‘trade-off’ is a con. SkyCity wants to do the convention centre anyway but it wants to look like it’s giving something to get more pokies.

The Auditor-General concludes that the final decision to choose SkyCity’s bid is sound when weighed against the other bids, but it could hardly be any other way. None of the other bidders had the inside running with all the government assistance they needed. Here’s some of the quotes:

“Ministry officials were aware that SkyCity had expressed an interest in extending its existing convention centre across Federal Street or developing a new centre on land it owned in Hobson Street. This awareness arose from communications between Auckland-based Ministry offi cials and SkyCity during April and May 2009.”

“The Ministry issued the EOI document, Request for Expressions of Interest for growing New Zealand’s share of the International Business Events Market and Strengthening the National Network of Convention Venues, on 19 May 2010 [ie. a year after SkyCity started talking to the government about building a convention centre]”

“from the start of the evaluation process, the contact with one proposer was of a wholly different nature from the contact with others”

“we were surprised to find that there was no documented analysis or advice on the process that needed to be followed from a procurement perspective, or any systematic consideration of the relevant principles and obligations that should guide the steps taken”

“In our view, the steps that were taken were not consistent with good practice principles of transparency and fairness”

“we found a range of deficiencies in the advice that the Ministry provided and the steps that officials and Ministers took”

It’s clear that the who process was a farce. The convention centre, more pokies idea came from SkyCity to the government, which adopted it enthusitatically, put on the charade of pretending it was the one looking for people to build a convention centre, went through a fake bidding process.

The Nats then entered into talks with SkyCity as if SkyCity is giving the government something it wants (a convention centre) in return for something SkyCity wants (more pokies), when both are something that SkyCity wants. National and SkyCity are merely pretending that SkyCity is giving us something in return for more pokies.

If SkyCity wants a convention centre, they should just build it but they’re trying to get two bites of the apple by framing it as a gift to the nation in return for pokies, and National’s helping them.

But there’s a deeper issue.

How can it be that a convention centre is a cornerstone of this government’s economic agenda? It’s a fucken convention centre. There’s already a surplus of the bloody things because so many other cities and governments have been conned into subsidising them and the international convention market is shrinking, not growing. Even if covention centres were good investments, it’s incredibly small beer for National to be investing so much money and political capital in it.

There’s something very sick at the heart of National’s agenda when giving SkyCity a convention centre and more pokies is one of their big ideas.


History

129 comments on “A-G reveals details of Nats’ dirty deal with SkyCity”

  1. Who are voting for these clowns ???

    • AmaKiwi 1.1

      In countries with checks and balances, people go to jail for this.

      But how do you convict an elected dictator whose opposition is powerless?

      • handle 1.1.1

        You make an opposition that isn’t.

        • AmaKiwi 1.1.1.1

          Does that mean you have to change the political system? You got any other ideas?

          • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1.1

            An Opposition Party which can call for a general strike and have a quarter million workers respond. An Opposition Party which has access to it’s own mass media channels through which it can conduct clear and vibrant debate. An Opposition Party with levers of influence sourced far beyond the beltway machinery of Wellington.

            Sorta like Labour of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

            • AmaKiwi 1.1.1.1.1.1

              A good vision.

              As the economy falls into a black hole it might happen.

            • blue leopard 1.1.1.1.1.2

              +1 yes a good vision and what we need.

            • Tom Gould 1.1.1.1.1.3

              A general strike? You’re kidding, right? Your own ‘mass media’? The ILO? No wonder the hard left is completely irrelevant to the process.

              • Colonial Viper

                Hey Tom, I agree, irrelevant in most places of the world, for the moment. But wait a while, this will transform into an issue beyond old fashioned Left versus Right.

              • Colonial Viper

                I also note that you did not declare the influence of capital, capitalists and banks irrelevant to the process. Rather of course, over the last 50 years, they have run more and more of the game.

                • Tom Gould

                  They own the process. Take a look at the SkyCity deal if you have any doubt. These Tories have managed to convince the brain dead idiots in the media that because the officials didn’t know what the PM and his own staff were saying to SkyCity at secret meetings, it is their fault. And we even have one of the big Tory chooks tweeting criticism of the Greens for using the AG to ‘score points’? We are truly through the looking glass now.

    • Roy 1.2

      Those who benefit from their policies, and those who mistakenly think they benefit from their policies.

  2. Kevin Welsh 2

    Just like The Hobbit, but without the threats.

    • Te Reo Putake 2.1

      I don’t think there were any threats around the Hobbit either, Kevin. Just the PM and Peter Jackson telling porkies.

  3. James 3

    What about the bit that says

    “The inquiry has considered both the adequacy of the process followed and whether anything substantively wrong has taken place. The main question underlying this inquiry was whether the Government’s decision to negotiate with SkyCity had been influenced by inappropriate considerations, such as connections between political and business leaders.

    **** We have seen no evidence to suggest that the final decision to negotiate with SkyCity was influenced by any inappropriate considerations.” ****

    • alwyn 3.1

      Probably a good thing that Charles announced he was quitting today.
      The MSM can spend the evening news talking about him and ignore the spectacular fail by the Greens and Labour on this.
      Incidentally, does anyone know when the report on Shane Jones and Bill Lui is due?

      • McFlock 3.1.1

        he was reinstated after the report. Not sure if it was an exoneration or simply like this “we haven’t caught them” report.

        • alwyn 3.1.1.1

          Now I have found what has happened to it. All the MSM reported on 14th Feb that a draft report has been sent to those involved. They then waffle about how it is expected to clear Jones. That is obviously spin from Jones, as you would expect.
          That’s about where the SkyCity was before Christmas I suppose when Key said he wasn’t losing any sleep over it.
          I guess that means the final Liu/Jones report will probably be late March.

          • McFlock 3.1.1.1.1

            I daresay quite a few people will be examining the hell out of that one when it is released, too 🙂

    • McFlock 3.2

      That’s the difference between being transparently innocent and simply not being caught. The public sector needs to be transparent.

      The entire question of whether an EOI would (or should) ever have been considered is unknown. To put it bluntly, the venue company that the governing party likes to hold conventions at and which is a prominent political donor was looking to expand, and purely coincidentally the government decided to fund a convention centre. Tories don’t even try to maintain the appearance of ethical standards these days, do they?

      • swan 3.2.1

        “and purely coincidentally the government decided to fund a convention centre”

        Except they aren’t – Skycity is footing the bill. Hoorah!

        • felixviper 3.2.1.1

          Wow, “footing the bill” to build their own conference centre.

          How very generous. The CEO ought to be knighted immediately.

          • swan 3.2.1.1.1

            So, whats the big deal then???

            Oh Skycity will be paying for the pokie machines too you know.

            • Te Reo Putake 3.2.1.1.1.1

              “Oh Skycity will be paying for the pokie machines too you know.”

              Have the Tui people been in touch yet?

            • felixviper 3.2.1.1.1.2

              “whats the big deal then???”

              The big deal is that the govt wrote and passed special legislation just for Sky City to allow them to massively increase the number of pokies they can have, reversing years of work to get reduce the number of these toxic bloodsucking machines.

              And to explain to the public why they were writing this special law, they said Sky City would build us a convention centre if we let them have some more machines.

              And now it turns out that that was a blatant lie as Sky City were going to build it anyway.

              Of course if you like having govts that write special laws for their special friends, and then lie to you about it, and you think we need more pokie machines, then it’s no big deal at all.

            • McFlock 3.2.1.1.1.3

              Nope. Sky will be profiting from them.
              We’ll be paying for them.

        • McFlock 3.2.1.2

          “and purely coincidentally the government decided to fund a convention centre”

          Except they aren’t – Skycity is footing the bill. Hoorah!

          While we pay for the prison stays of more problem gamblers.

          While we fund social services for more children left in the carpark.

          If you think the convention centre comes to New Zealand for no cost, you’re dreaming.

    • KhandallaViper 3.3

      …….”We have not seen evidence to suggest….inappropriate consideration”

      That is very different from:

      “we were satisfied that there was no inappropriate consideration”

      The report smells a RAT but cannot call it out.

      • AmaKiwi 3.3.1

        “We have not seen evidence to suggest….inappropriate consideration” . . . . . . because it has all been shredded.

  4. tracey 4

    Oh gosh, another memory fade for the pm

  5. tracey 5

    James… It found they were treated differentky following intervention by the pm. This means it wasnt an entirely even playing field. The pm conveniently cant recall the details of a meeting… There’s more to integrity and leadership than the lowest standard of behaviour set by the law.

  6. tracey 6

    Alwyn, if you are happy with the final two lines of the opening post thread then the standards and values you expect of our leaders are sadly very low. I hope your personal ethics are higher, especially if you are a parent

    • alwyn 6.1

      I don’t have to approve of casinos. However we let the cat out of the bag in that regard many years ago and a 20%, or whatever it is, increase in pokies (what a lovely Australian abbreviation) doesn’t seem to me to be much of a change. It does seem to be about the only way we were goung to get a Convention Centre though.
      I admit I’ve never been in a Casino so I don’t really know what the atmosphere in one is like. The nearest I ever got was a week long convention I went to in Melbourne about 1992. We were about 50 metres from the Casino and none of us could be bothered even looking in the door.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        It does seem to be about the only way we were goung to get a Convention Centre though.

        We’ve already git one (owned by SkyCity) and we don’t need a bigger one due to the collapsing market.

      • felixviper 6.1.2

        “It does seem to be about the only way we were goung to get a Convention Centre though.”

        Except that no, it wasn’t. Sky City were going to build one anyway.

        Sheesh, do you even read the posts?

        • alwyn 6.1.2.1

          Can you give me a reference to that. I mean one in the MSM or suchlike, not an unsupported claim in a blog.

  7. Yorick 7

    Let me put it this way for you guys.

    You are living in a country that is one big earthquake away from being the
    New Haiti of the South Pacific

    It is not the New Taiwan some in the Young Nationals
    have dreamed of, which might solve our underpopulation problem –
    higher tax base, and all that ..

    Instead we can fleece the heavy rollers from Macau, HK, Shanghai ..
    and become serfs in our own land.

    Be grateful ! The sun is shining through the clouds of pumice dust
    settling around us.

    Just don’t tell Shearer. He might pen another treatise explaining why
    mercenaries are a fact of warfare.

    • McFlock 7.1

      random

      • Yorick 7.1.1

        Origin: 1275–1325; Middle English raundon, random < Old French randon, derivative of randir to gallop < Germanic

        • Rogue Trooper 7.1.1.1

          🙂 🙂 🙂

        • McFlock 7.1.1.2

          trivial

          • Rogue Trooper 7.1.1.2.1

            No Fun

            • McFlock 7.1.1.2.1.1

              thought it would be funny to get the origins back 🙂

              • Rogue Trooper

                you are certainly an “original” one outta the gate my friend (i would keep up, but you know, no IT in the cell and all that; btw, thanks for everything, so far, i think) 🙂

              • Yorick

                Origins: Synonyms: agent, ancestor, ancestry, antecedent, author, base, causality, causation, connection, creator, derivation, determinant, egg, element, embryo, fountain, generator, germ, horse’s mouth, impulse, inception, inducement, influence, inspiration, mainspring, motive, nucleus, occasion, parent, parentage, principle, producer, progenitor, provenance, provenience, root, roots, seed, source, spring, stock, well, wellspring

                .. which one do you mean ?

                [with apologies to Will ..]

                • Rogue Trooper

                  alas. we know them well (gotta go and watch the NEWS now) larffs hysterically as he cycles off down the road, “riding along…singing their song…side by side…

  8. xtasy 8

    Quoted from the A G report:

    “Given this complexity, we were surprised to find that there was no documented analysis or advice on the process that needed to be followed from a procurement perspective, or any systematic consideration of the relevant principles and obligations that should guide the steps taken. In our view, those involved had a strong focus on the need to manage the difficult relationship between the commercial issues and the policy and political decisions that were needed, but too little focus on the disciplines that should govern commercial decision-making in the public sector.”

    “The first example concerns the lack of overall planning. A specific weakness was that there is no evidence that any consideration was given to whether the Mandatory Rules on Procurement were relevant.”

    “Although decisions were made on the merits of the different proposals, we do not consider that the evaluation process was transparent or even-handed. The evaluation process lasted for more than a year. The meetings and discussion between the Government representatives and SkyCity were materially different in quantity and kind from those between the Government and the other parties that responded.”

    And finally the summary:
    “Process should not stand in the way of such innovation. However, the underlying principles that established processes aim to protect do still need to be respected. New ways of working in the public sector still need to be able to show that public resources are being appropriately managed and spent. We will continue to discuss such developments with relevant officials and update our good practice publications from time to time to reflect latest developments.”

    Reading stuff like this, I can only get total confirmation, that I should not and cannot trust this government in anything they do, in whatever area of government, administration and policy introduction and implementation. I am sure many feel similarly shocked.

    After reading this and the rest, I am astonished about the final conclusions that A G office made in this investigation. It sounds sadly like some responses one gets from increasingly “weak” and under-resourced offices or institutions like the Office of Ombudsmen, Privacy Commissioner and so forth.

    In short: What was done was shoddy, unprofessional, wrong and unacceptable, but we are sure they will learn out of their mistakes. Yeah right, another Tui Board message can be erected.

    • Pascal's bookie 8.1

      And this gloriously ambiguous last line in the stuff report from this morning, which has been retained in the update:

      “A senior government source said there had been a difference of opinion inside the auditor-general’s office about the final conclusion.”

      Decode that and tell me what the hell.

      Worth noting that “senior government source” is usually cabinet level politician, in distinction from ‘an official’ which is staff.

      • Pascal's bookie 8.1.1

        With “staff” being bureaucrat rather than political aide of some sort.

      • marsman 8.1.2

        Yes Pb I noticed that too. That says it all really and of course John Key’s ‘we have been vindicated’ is, as usual, a crock of shit.

        • SukieDamson 8.1.2.1

          Thanks guys. It’s these heart-of-the-matter nuggets, amongst all the other flotsam & jestsam on here, that really count.

  9. tracey 9

    Yorick, if only what you wrote meant we dont get left with the social problems to pay for.

    Alwyn, why do we need this new centre… We have aotea, vector arena, tge new venue at north wharf. If you genuinely believe tgat once something is in place you just expand it even if it causes social ill, how can you suppirt, say national standards? Once the previous system was broken, by your logic we just let it continue or make it worse, cos tge cat is out of the bag. In any event you and yorick and otgers are avoiding the point. Yet again our mp forgets something important thus remving some evidence to judge decision making and tge report doesnt say he or his ministers or ministries acted properly or even beyond reproach.

    • Yorick 9.1

      tracey: I wrote it with my tongue wedged firmly in my root canal (don’t ask).
      But yes, that’s how it looks.

      xtacy: well done. I think I’ve seen that quoted in the media somewhere.
      It sounds like someone grimly observing Westminster-derived public
      service protocol, but letting show his fury at Hawai’ian cowboys
      (apologies to the National Farmers Federation) and others
      who stand to benefit from the SkyTower Casino.

  10. tracey 10

    Sorry alwyn, in my post above i meant the last two lines of the opening thread quote.

  11. tracey 11

    Xtsy. ?. No documents not trail of bad behaviour, the govt is already making history for their obstruction of oia and transparency… The later repeated ad infinitum by our current pm in 2008… And then he was elected

    • xtasy 11.1

      tracey: Re OIA requests, it is abhorrent what goes on now, yes scandalous.

      I have contacts waiting for specified info for many months, and 3 deadlines were in an importanct case not met by MSD (despite of repeated letters and assurances). The last time they promised a response was on its way, but they never even bothered to reply at all, and that is nearly a month back now.

      So a complaint then goes to dear Beverley Wakem – the Chief Ombudsman, who has over the years also become less of a force to rely on. Their office is underresourced and overworked. And now the person who launched the request can wait for weeks, maybe months, to get a decision from the Ombudsman, which may just force MSD to deliver only a tiny selection of info, withholding much else, for various excuses or reasons allowed under the Act.

      Then the next complaint may go to the Ombudsman, arguing those reasons to withhold, and maybe, half a year, or a year later, the whole circus starts again from scratch.

      That is NOT transparency, it is covering up stuff that is known in particular cases as “dodgey admin decisions” – and worse.

      My faith in the NZ system has long been LOST.

  12. Rob 12

    So you finished?

    We might now be able to build the thing and create some employment and material sales.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      Why would we build it? It’s not financially worth it and the social damage that will accrue from the extra pokies will come out of everyone’s taxes so as to make a few people richer.

    • Strategos 12.2

      Very short-term, Rob. It would be competing with the Sydney Convention Centre, among others,
      and once it is up the only “employment and material sales” will be casino related.

      What sort of “material sales” are there in a casino ? The employment will be hardly professional – unless you refer to hi-tempo music, sugared and caffeinated drinks available freely on demand, and women dressed in a way designed to raise testosterone levels among young male gamblers.

      Check out Atlantic City or the N.Y. casinos some time.

      • Pascal's bookie 12.2.1

        I guess he was talking about the construction materials.

      • Rob 12.2.2

        Strategos, we compete against things and events in Sydney on a daily basis. Just because they have one is no reason to think we can’t and that sort of thinking is terminal for this country. There is also a much better convention centre in Melbourne as part of the crown casino anyway.

        Of course the material sales are building materials and a good 2 year construction programme would do very well for the built environment sector in Auckland, especially if the Fonterra head office job comes on as well.

        Conference centres , especially the real big ones in Germany are massive employers of all sorts of trades and skills , not just your low level food & bev examples.

        This is a good thing for NZ and it is a tangible job creator, maybe if we actually witnessed some ideas from Labour rather than empty statements about being hands on you might get some more support.

        • Colonial Viper 12.2.2.1

          Convention venues are common commodities in the world market. Just another iron in the tourism iron.

          Let’s get some real high tech, high skill jobs going, not more minimum wage service jobs serving meals, making beds, laundering linen, and cleaning bathrooms.

          • Rob 12.2.2.1.1

            Major convention centres holding international trade shows are a very big deal. The levels of display and technology that displaying companies use is on a scale that is not seen in NZ.

            If (and this is a big if) we got our shit togther and had an asset capable of hosting 12 international trade shows of a major scale a year, and we were successful in wining those show, that would be a real and tangible boost to this nation.

            At Stutgartt the biggest businesses there are Mercedes Benz, Porsche and the Messe convention centre.

            • Colonial Viper 12.2.2.1.1.1

              OMG. You’re actually talking about winning the heavy metal tradeshows of the latest technology, machine tools, automotive vehicles, high tech consumer products or the like.

              Bringing a Computex, CES or LA Motor Show to Auckland every month.

              Not worth the effort of even trying.

              What NZ enterprises need to be doing is creating the global technologies, products and companies which exhibit at these very same shows across the world.

              That’s where we need to be focussing. Completely different emphasis and mindset.

              Be a valued exhibitor at these trade shows, not serve the drinks.

              • Rob

                “OMG” are you 12.

                Anyway you are trying to make it a binary call. Your slightly strange point is that for us to develop a convention industry in NZ would inhibit us from being innovative and developing hi tech industries. Would you ever dare to dream that we could have both perhaps?

                The most deserving aspect is your comment “Not worth the effort of even trying”. So what do you suggest, follow your example and sit inside all day contributing nothing but bitching and whining at a computer monitor.

                • Colonial Viper

                  follow your example and sit inside all day contributing nothing but bitching and whining at a computer monitor.

                  lol I heard that one before from Wellington. Wait a sec, I didn’t mean to say “LOL”, I meant “laugh out loud”.

                  Get with the internet age my friend, it’s both the dawn and the dusk of a new era.

                  Anyway you are trying to make it a binary call.

                  Very good point. However, it’s a call I’m making based on the very limited time and resources available to this nation. And trying to win over (or recreate) a CES, Computex or LA Motor Show in Auckland is a fools errand justification for a Sky Elephant. Shit, even trying to get a 30,000 people from downtown Auckland to the RWC opening was an abortion.

    • marsman 12.3

      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.

  13. Rogue Trooper 13

    TV ONE: “excessive bouts of gambling go unreported” (according to The Spirits in The SKY) oh well, a fool and his money…

  14. Treetop 14

    I want to know what the max bet value of each additional machine will be?

  15. Strategos 15

    good question ..

  16. geoff 16

    Hay butt wait PM said the report wuz all good. im confoozed.

  17. AmaKiwi 17

    OK, Captain Mumblefucks and Team ABC.

    It’s been handed to you on a silver platter.

    Rip the PM to shreds.

  18. DH 18

    I’m still mulling the report over but I thought the AO did a reasonable job there, pity they didn’t cover the financial side though.

    There’s been a queue of dunderheads claiming we get a ‘free’ convention centre out of this deal and in the AO we finally have someone who recognises that the gaming concessions are worth a lot of money. They note that the Govt got a valuation on them, to quote;

    “The analyst estimated a dollar value, in terms of benefit to SkyCity, of the various
    gambling concessions that SkyCity sought. The analyst advised the Ministry on
    the value of this benefi t relative to the estimated cost to SkyCity of building a new
    large-scale convention centre. The advice also considered whether any gambling
    harm minimisation measures would be necessary to balance the value of the
    concessions sought and the cost of building the centre.”

    Curiously the AO fails to follow that up. The Govt is giving away significant monetary value in the concessions but not receiving any physical assets in return. We won’t own the convention centre, Sky City will, so what exactly do we get for our money?

    The AO also don’t delve into the untendered aspect of the concessions when earlier in the report make they a big deal about how these types of transactions should always be subject to competitive tender. How do we know we’re getting value for money?

    (It should be noted that a licence for 500 pokies has a market value in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s a licence to print money)

    • bad12 18.1

      Yes TV1 news are ‘selling’ the convention center as Auckland rate-payers not having to put in a cent, the only thing that can be said about such a twisting of the truth by the States broadcaster is a lament of no mention of ‘the great leader says’,

      It is obvious to all but the most dull that the Slippery little Shyster was involved in the process of allowing Sky-City the right to build this convention center right up to His arm-pits,

      The fact that the Audit Office cannot find evidence of this shows not honesty from this National Government more it simply highlights institutionalized rat cunning being at the heart of the decision and the ‘process’ around how that decision was reached,

      The fact that Ministers and officials talked with Sky-City extensively on a number of occasions BEFOR calling for expressions of interests from other parties simply leads to the conclusion that this was a ‘done deal’ well befor those expressions of interest were called for…

      • DH 18.1.1

        Yeah I think so too. The AO needed to follow the money more in my view, we need to see this analysts figures. To give an idea on values….

        A high gambling area like Henderson generated an average of $20,586 per machine from 162 gaming machines in the last quarter (Manukau City was close behind at $19,358 from 207 machines) That’s $82,344 in gaming proceeds per year. If we go with the known figure of 37.5% as profit (what they give to charity) that’s a minimum profit of $30,879 per machine. 500 machines would thus generate annual profits of at least $15.43 million per year. Put that on the sharemaket as a business and at an overly generous 8% return on capital you’ve got a market value of $193million.

        In reality SkyCity would likely make near double those profits which would double the market value of the pokies licences. It’s seriously big money and I’m finding it hard to understand why the Govt is giving that much away to SkyCity on this deal.

        • bad12 18.1.1.1

          You would probably have to crack open every blind trust and nominee company in the whole wide world to find the answer to that one…

        • swan 18.1.1.2

          DH, totally agree with you. So you would support the auctioning of pokie machine and casino licences in order to maximise government return?

          Because it is not like the government is currently hold the $200m. It doesnt exist except if they make it happen.

      • Treetop 18.1.2

        Fast forward two or three years down the track. Key will be spouting an increase in pokie addicts when he is in opposition.

        I reckon it will take a new government three years to sort out the pile of crap which the current government is piling up and the stench is already over powering.

  19. tracey 19

    Rob, take some time and revisit the aotea centre debate and its glaring inability to make money and ended up with outsourcing

  20. tracey 20

    Dh, stop confusing the matter with fact and analyis

  21. NoseViper (The Nose knows) 21

    it could be that more gambling opportunities spark real initiative amongst the bolder or more desperate gamblers. that will probably be aimed at tourists though as in the recent raid by a highwayman on mt eden, i think. not a good look for our tourism minister.

  22. ropata 22

    500 pokie machines for their mates or few dozen state houses for non voting beneficiaries?
    It’s a no brainer for this crony capitalist government

  23. millsy 23

    Nothing is stopping SkyCity from building a convention centre right now. It seems to me that this government is actively trying to destroy high wage unionised jobs (Exhibit A: Hillside), and replace them with low wage short term insecure jobs (Hobbit, etc)

  24. Coronial Typer 24

    I can totally get that gambling isn’t the industry we want.

    But I want to check up on the view on government interventionism here.
    This is a government that does deals. It’s “Hands on” government.
    That’s what Labour is campaigning on.

    Were Labour in power, would we not want a Prime Minister to cut deals?
    Isn’t this the stuff that politics is all about?

    This is certainly what I see from big city mayors.
    SkyCity is a mall; an air conditioned internal panopticon of hypnotic pleasure.
    It also rebuilt a whole block, and Auckland City in reviving Federal Street into shared space is fully complicit. Labour legalised prostitution, so over the road the Chow Brothers get to build another pleasure palace to support Sky City.

    The spatial intervention is massive. It’s in full synch with central government.
    The Convention Centre redevelops another, massive block that needs it.

    Key is keeping the interventionist crown in our politics.
    Shearer won’t get it back, not until he convinces New Zealand that the industries he wants to “hands on” with are superior.

    • millsy 24.1

      A truly interventionist government would have built the convention centre itself, and run it as an SOE.

      Rather like the Holland government (whom I consider the Key government to be the most like), in the 1950’s they saw tourism as a growth industry, but there was a lack of decent accomodation. So they created the Tourist Hotel Corporation, which raised the standards of hotel/motel and tourist facilities, and trained skilled hospitality staff (that earned very high wages).

      • Colonial Viper 24.1.1

        Correct.

        The ‘hands on Government’ moniker is an extremely misleading one. Thatcher had a very hands-on Government. So did Douglas. And Richardson. And Bush.

      • Coronial Typer 24.1.2

        I like that precedent too, but that level of interventionism is not coming back in the foreseeable future. Sutch is dead, as is his legacy.

        Presuming that a fresh 2014 Labour government would do pretty much the same degree of interventionism, what industries would it choose? Would it rule out joint share holdings? PPPs? Have ethical limits like the NZSuper fund? Shearer has more envy in his anger than righteousness.

        Where is its alternative? And does it somehow propose being cleaner? In politics you can’t be hands on commercially and keep them clean as well.

        • Colonial Viper 24.1.2.1

          In politics you can’t be hands on commercially and keep them clean as well.

          Sure. Look at the insider dealing, nepotism and corruption that Lee Kuan Yew brought to Singapore.

          Of course, he also managed to transform the country from a backward third world swamp made up of fishing villages to a world leading centre of finance, science, logistics and entrepreneurship over a span of 40 years.

          • Coronial Typer 24.1.2.1.1

            But inside all of New Zealand central government’s most transformative deals, are kickbacks and trades, some subtler than others. That’s why they are deals: because both sides pay in, and both sides gain. Labour has already indicated it will go equally neck-deep into state procurement, and there are only small steps from there to concessions, informal partnerships, patrilineage, and well-wrinsed kickbacks.

            Selling out regulations was bad. Granted.

            But the rest? Mere politics. The politics of getting it done.
            Labour doesn’t have a policy alternative, and after 4 years out of power, it leaves them supporting no specific industry at all, and so with little high moral ground to stand right now.

            • Colonial Viper 24.1.2.1.1.1

              Well you hit the nail on the head there. We’re realists and realpolitik is about getting things done and getting the support necessary to do that. But it’s the strong policy alternatives, the substantive what which is missing. By all means, cut the deals that are needed, but deals to achieve what exactly? for NZ.

              • Coronial Typer

                Bruce Jesson mapped out the web in Behind the Mirror Glass. All the great families, all the great company names. Conspiracy, con-spiratio, simply means “breathing together”.

                BTW, first one to convince the electorate of “this is what’s good for New Zealand”, wins the next 2 terms. The Vision Thing.

    • felixviper 24.2

      Were Labour in power, would we not want a Prime Minister to cut deals?

      This is a good deal for Sky City and a shit deal for us. To put it bluntly, Key is not sitting on our side of the negotiating table.

    • Murray Olsen 24.3

      We would want a government that decided what the country needed and then put out tenders. Instead we have a government that asks Sky City what they can do to help them and then offers twice as much. As felixviper says, they’re on the other side of the negotiating table, which also seems to be their position on asset sales, charter schools, holiday highways and anything else they do.
      I can’t wait for some journalist to ask Shearer if there would be room in his caucus for someone who auctioned off the workers at the expense of social problems and unionised award wage jobs. Just in case someone has his ear, the answer to this one should be the same as to the homophobe question, a resounding no. The favour with which Shane Jones is looked on makes me wonder if he’d get this one right either.

      • Coronial Typer 24.3.1

        That really is the core point: there is nothing we have seen in Shearer or his leadership team to suggest he would be any more moral, any cleaner, any clearer in policy goals, anything different as a politician, than John Key or his cabinet.

        • Strategos 24.3.1.1

          That’s why he is there. This is largely about Auckland. Joseph Conrad once described it as “the hell-hole of the South Pacific”. It has also been called “the Chicago of the South Pacific” but .. whoops .. that’s where Obama is from. Shearer is Goff’s protege’ and a product of the Auckland Labour party machine .. not to mention Soros’s International Crisis Group.

          QED.

      • blue leopard 24.3.2

        So true Felixviper & Murray Olsen

      • DH 24.3.3

        Well said Murray & Felix.

        One of the biggest chumps in this deal is the Auck Chamber of Commerce who seem a little short on critical thinking

        It seems to have been missed by these fools that whoever runs the Convention Centre takes the bookings. That’s a position of immense power & influence. SkyCity run a vertically integrated operation and it goes without saying that SkyCity plan on seeing convention goers stay at SkyCity hotels, eat at SkyCity restaurants, be entertained at SkyCity complex etc etc etc….

        Even if it did bring a boost in spending to Auckland, the Auck businesess community would only see a beggars share of it. They’ll be lining up for the crumbs and paying kickbacks to get them. Mugs.

        • Colonial Viper 24.3.3.1

          Oh don’t be so negative, the Chinese brothels across the road will do fine.

          • DH 24.3.3.1.1

            Yeah they’ll do ok, been trying to think of a pithy comment with the word shagging in it but the sense of humour seems to be on holiday at the mo’

  25. Having read this and viewed coverage on it I just cannot believe the level of support this sham of a government continues to receive.
    Having watched the coverage on on TV1, I conclude that this report clearly shows that the people running this government at present absolutely don’t care for NZers, or our society. They absolutely don’t care.

    The issue received the framing of: “but a convention centre will bring in these benefits”
    There need be no argument over the benefits of a convention centre.
    The issue is not over whether we have a convention centre or not
    It is over involving pokies in the scum-deal.

    This way of distracting from the real cause of concern is the mechanism for how our issues get warped and stupid destructive things are enabled to get through.

    The problem is not about whether to have a convention centre or not.
    It is about involving pokies in the deal.

    This was completely unnecessary and a rort.
    Gee I’ll bet some people are really cracking open the champers tonight.

    • Coronial Typer 25.1

      Agreed. In all procurement, Cash is cleaner.
      Regulations for vice should not be simply sold.

      • blue leopard 25.1.1

        Yes, its pretty simple really.
        Doesn’t need to be confusing.

        And its pretty clear today, that these creatures “governing” us confuse the issues in order to get something through simply for profit and to hell with the negative effects that it causes.
        It is simply disgusting.

    • Colonial Viper 25.2

      Having read this and viewed coverage on it I just cannot believe the level of support this sham of a government continues to receive.

      I can’t believe it either, given the outstanding Government-In-Waiting that all New Zealanders have as a choice right now.

  26. One Tāne Huna 26

    How much extra laundered drug money will the National Party take in bribes as a result?

  27. Afewknowthetruth 27

    Easter Islanders progressively cleared the forest that covered Rapa Nui when they arrived, and used the last of their resources constructing statues. When they had chopped down the last tree and could not build a canoe to go fishing and had impoverished the soil so little would grow most of them starved to death via civil war and cannibalism.

    We live in an Easter Island culture./ The last of our resources -especially cheap fossil fuels- are being consumed to construct infrastructure and facilities that will have NO utility in the near future.

    However, what we are witnessing is part of the international trend towards expansion of casino economics, prior to it all collapsing some time over the next couple of years. By printing money the Federal Reserve has managed to pump the Dow to over 14,000 -which is nearly what it was in 2007. All the fundamentals of the US economy are rotten to the core, of course, as is the case with Europe and Japan (and NZ). I see 1701 people applied for 8 positions at a coffee shop in Britain: that clearly shows where things are at.

    • Colonial Viper 27.1

      the Federal Reserve has managed to pump the Dow to over 14,000 -which is nearly what it was in 2007.

      This is the fascinating thing – ‘nearly what the Dow was in 2007’ is a nominal comparison. If you take into account real inflation over the last 6 years, not only has the Dow not met it’s previous nominal high, it is actually sitting roughly 40% below it, adjusted for inflation.

      Also if I were to put my “gold bug” hat on, since 2007 the price of gold has gone up 2.5x, while the price of shares (priced in depreciating printed dollars) has nominally not even reached 1.0x what it was in 2007.

      Conclusion: despite all the QE and other underhanded shenanigans, this financial system is already fucked, and real value is disappearing well faster than they can print money.

  28. Treetop 28

    There is no way that the government would include a clause which states that the pokie machine numbers have to return to pre convention centre numbers once the convention centre is paid for.

  29. gnomic 29

    Isn’t this a case of the smirking weasel saying “I am not a weasel”? Older readers may recall Richard Nixon’s notorious claim that he was not a crook. Earlier someone asked what the inside of a casino is like. Having walked through the gaming hall of Sky City in Auckland once, it seemed like a vision of Hell to me. Evidently some unhappy souls must enjoy it.

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History