SkyCity stench demands restart
No corruption but a corrupted process.
And because in politics process can never really be separated from product, the Government ought to put its talks with SkyCity on hold pending a more open tendering process. That’s the only way to restore public confidence in the process and blow away the fetid smell that now hangs around the plans for a convention centre-for-pokies deal.
Deputy auditor-general Phillippa Smith has delivered a deeply-troubling report on negotiations between the government and SkyCity.
“Corrupted process”. “Stench”. You don’t usually see Small so worked up.
Slipping information about the Government’s plans to one bidder, giving it more time and indulging in talks about how proposals can be modified, while leaving other potential bidders in the dark, has no place in the public sector. …
And all that before the Government faces its biggest test of the whole deal – justifying changing the rules to create an uneven playing field for (and between) gambling interests, and exacerbating a social bad by boosting the number of pokie machines in Auckland.
It’s not just Armstrong and Small – the reaction to the AG’s report is lingering in the headlines much longer than Key would like. Here’s Bryce Edwards in his political round-up yesterday summarised:
Commentators are refusing to let the SkyCity scandal lie, with economist Rod Oram now labelling the Auditor-General’s report a ‘whitewash’ – see: No way to run a country. John Armstrong is also harshly critical of the Government’s response to the Auditor-General’s report – see: Nats battle hard to tame report. And Tim Watkin says that it all reflects a modern modus operandi in which only results matter, not process – see: Pokies & smokies: When the means and ends don’t meet
Let’s take a look at the Rod Oram piece:
No way to run a country
Whitewash is the only word to describe the deputy auditor-general’s report on the Government’s relationship with SkyCity.
The report dumps all the blame on civil servants. But its description of events makes it very clear the prime minister, his office, his Tourism Ministry, and the Ministry of Economic Development spent a year trying to stitch up a convention centre deal with SkyCity before any other interested party got a glance in.
By doing so, John Key and his officials subverted the normal processes required for government procurement. These are designed to ensure solutions are canvassed widely and the best option chosen. As a result we’ll get the convention centre SkyCity wants to build on terms highly favourable to it, which may not be the convention centre New Zealand needs. Here’s how the prime minister and his colleagues abused the system, according to the chronology of actions described in the deputy auditor-general’s report. …
Read on for the chronology.
This very sweet deal sends a very clear message: If you want to build a convention centre, school, road, hospital, prison or any other form of infrastructure, don’t bother with the appropriate processes. Do an end-run around the competition – deal directly with the prime minister. This is no way to run any country.
I don’t think I have anything to add.