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First they sold Auckland, then the rest of NZ…?

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, October 3rd, 2014 - 28 comments
Categories: accountability, auckland supercity, capitalism, democracy under attack, john key, Public Private Partnerships, same old national, slippery, Spying - Tags:

So, John Key has quietly (secretly?) shifted the already dodgy SkyCity deal.  Meanwhile, in Auckland, the Auckland Transport Authority has apparently done a deal to sell oversight of all of our daily lives to a US corporate, and thereby rendering the data accessible to the US state surveillance agency , the NSA.

key pokies

Unveiled in May last year, the initial deal between SkyCity and the government was extremely controversial.  John Key’s government agreed to SkyCity building a new convention centre, to be paid for by SkyCity.  In exchange, the government would allow extensions to the usual licensing agreements with respect to the SkyCity casino, and a lot of extra pokie machines and gambling tables.

The deal was locked into government legislation so that any future government could not change the deal before 2048.

A few months later, it was revealed that TVNZ land, owned by the government (or as they say, owned by tax payers) was sold to SkyCity so that the convention centre could be built on the land. The justification was that the convention centre would be great for Aucklanders, New Zealanders and the economy.

Today, David Fisher reports the latest dodgy change to the already the dodgy new SkyCity deal – a deal that was meant to be unchangeable by future governments. SkyCity is actually going to build a new hotel on the land that was once TVNZ land: something that is purely for the profiteering by the owners of SkyCity.  Fisher reports:

SkyCity is building its new hotel on land surrendered by the taxpayer for the creation of the $402 million convention centre, the Herald can reveal.

[…]

The decision to build a hotel on the former TVNZ property came just three months after the casino company bought the land – the result of three years campaigning for it on the premise it was needed to build the convention centre.

As  justification, John Key uses his nothing-to-see-here pose:

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said Mr Key was comfortable with the process and the changes proposed.

Such a non-explanation is way beyond not good enough.  Here we have a PM who avoids being held to account, with a slippery, bu existentially barefaced, thumbing of his nose to NZ citizens .  This is totally anti-democratic.  Essential Key is supporting corporate rule of the country’s laws and regulatory system.

This news comes a day after we learned that the surveillance of just about every movement of most Aucklanders’ daily lives has been sold to US corporate, Hewlett-Packard.

Gen Keith Alexander NSA stop spying on US

Michael Field reports on Stuff:

Surveillance technology that uses high definition cameras and software that can put names to faces and owners to cars is coming to Auckland.

The surveillance has the capability to also scan social media and news websites.

Auckland Transport, the regional transport provider, announced the multi-million dollar deal in June, and California’s Hewlett-Packard Development Company said today it has the contract.

[…]

“The system will leverage data from a variety of sources, including thousands of security and traffic management cameras, a vast network of road and environmental sensors as well as real-time social media and news feeds,” HP said.

Of course, Auckland Transport justifies this in terms of safety and combating crime.   They also claim there will be limites on the kinds of surveillance undertaken.

However, Idiot/Savant reports that Hewlett-Packard’s own press release contradict such statements:

Auckland Transport have since denied some of the claims, saying that its all about traffic-flow management and that ANPR and facial recognition will not be used (and that no data will be shipped overseas to the NSA), but its all there in HP’s press release:

In the first phase of the project, Auckland Transport will focus on improving public safety. Law enforcement will use HP Intelligent Scene Analysis System and license plate recognition for accurate identification and scene analysis for dangerous activities and analyzing safety threats from over 2,000 cameras deployed within Auckland. Going forward this information will be linked with rich insight from social media news sources to provide a comprehensive solution that can proactively identify breaking trends and respond to critical safety incidents for cyclists and transport users.

HP Leading intelligent video analytics

Of course, as the NSA can tap into any communications going into the US, this means that they will be able to access the data about Aucklanders going to HP in California.

Auckland Transport is ultimately accountable to Aucklanders.  However, the way Rodney Hide set up Auckland Supercity Council, means that it tends to no be directly accountable.

Aucklanders should be directly consulted on such a big change to enable the surveillance of their daily lives. The money deals with an offshore corportate, that enables such spying on Aucklanders should not be the result of deals beahind closed doors.  And the contradictory public statements need to be cleared up.

As Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn concludes:

…we really have to ask why Auckland Transport is paying for a system with these capabilities (even if they won’t be used yet), why its installing a (turnkey) mass-surveillance system without any public mandate. And we need to start looking at whether any of our other local authorities have been doing the same.

surveillance governmenttrust

28 comments on “First they sold Auckland, then the rest of NZ…? ”

  1. cogito 1

    I believe the HP surveillance data will be transferred and analysed in California….

    Added:
    “All the data gathered by the cameras will be processed by HP cloud servers based in Palo Alto, California”. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10567293/Sophisticated-surveillance-coming-to-Auckland

    • karol 1.1

      Well the Auckland Transport Authority says that no Auckland data will be sent overseas. But as I/S states, the ATA statements are contradicted by the press release from HP.

      It’s not clear to me how the HP could provide the analytical services with support from “HP Software Professional Services” (as stated in the HP press release), could be done by only using hard and software in NZ.

      Edit: thanks for the added quote on using cloud servers based in Palo Alto, California.

    • aerobubble 1.2

      Oh, please, Nz isn’t interested in criticism of ‘the faith’ as Key put it. NZ kept the faith.

      It will take Fonterra to fail, maybe more ill judged overseas investments, coupled with a long term decline for our dairy, and kicked off with dairy farmers being forced in numbers to sell up to pay off debt (or be force closed).

      Key won’t stop until the co-op is taken out of Fonterra. Then kiwis will realize Key’s real legacy, of increased revenue burden on lower and middle income earners in Keys first months of office. Robbing the middle of NZ of its future.

      • tc 1.2.1

        Isn’t removal of Fonterra co-op part of the TPPA we aren’t allowed to view ?

        • aerobubble 1.2.1.1

          We don’t know, yes, but I too believe we will when Key leaves office and takes up in Hawaii, as officially worst most divisive PM in history of NZ.

  2. AmaKiwi 2

    In my conversations with leading NZ politicians (including Helen Clark and David Cunliffe) they curtly dismiss binding citizen initiated referendums with excuses that are best summarized as “you can’t trust the people.”

    But we can trust these politicians and bureaucrats.

    Yeah, right.

    If the Labour Party self-destructs, I might start a party whose ONLY platform is binding citizen initiated referendums. It would be neither Right nor Left. Let the people decide if the government of the day is spending too little or too much on whatever program they pass.

    Take back our country!

    • Lindsey 2.1

      And there are some rich old folks in the Waikato who may fund you as well as the Conservatives. However, unless there are very strict controls on wording and finance, binding referenda are just more ways for the rich to buy legislation.

    • Antonius 2.2

      That sounds like a recipe for disaster.

      Policy by popularity.

      Reminds me of the old saying. A camel is a horse designed by committee.

  3. Tracey 3

    “connotes an attitude and a brutal policy of draconian control by propaganda,

    surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past”. Orwellian

    if you remove the word brutal, what springs to mind

  4. Tom Gould 4

    Joyce says that the hotel falls within the definition of convention centre, which I guess makes it “pretty legal”. Or it could be another left wing smear campaign?

  5. HP is probably the best in the world for surveillance of workers – it works for Palestinians.
    Ask Israel.
    http://www.whoprofits.org/company/hewlett-packard-hp

  6. Wayne 6

    Where on earth is the scandal in shifting the hotel from the southern side of the site to the northern side (David Fisher’s breathless article notwithstanding). In fact looking at the plan in the Herald, it was pretty logical, since the convention part will be a rectangle and clearly easier to design.

    Honestly if this is the best you can do to generate a scandal, why bother. No wonder John Key said he was pretty relaxed about the change. In reality the change is just detail, that has no public impact beyond what was already proposed.

    • Correct Wayne.
      Skycity is an abomination, whether built on crown land or not.
      Any decent Government would nationalise it and turn it into a entertainment centre for kids.

    • karol 6.2

      All the news reports I saw, stated that the planned convention centre was separate from the planned hotel. And the reports on the sale of TVNZ land, stated that it was to be used for the convention centre.

      For instance, this report of August this year:

      SkyCity has also revealed some details of a 300-room five-star $130m hotel, which will be built next door and connect to the centre via a covered walkway.

      It was never made clear that the hotel would be built on the TVNZ land.

      At best, this is a little bit slippery. Already many people were not happy that TVNZ land would be sold to SkyCity for the convention centre.

      And, and the end of the day…. SkyCity ends up with a big hotel on the former TVNZ land, with great harbour views, etc.

      SkyCity profits – little in it for ordinary Kiws, as we watch further state assets being sold to the profiteers.

    • Murray Olsen 6.3

      “since the convention part will be a rectangle and clearly easier to design.”

      Yes Wayne, public land should be sold under false pretences to make life easier for the poor architects. You obviously don’t see anything wrong with this, but apart from anything else it sets a precedent. National lies when it wants to give away the commons. Key and certain ex-ministers are comfortable about that. Brave new world. Great.

      • Wayne 6.3.1

        Commercial land owned by an SOE which had old commercial buildings on it is hardly “public land” or the “the commons.” SOE’s are regularly buying and selling things, including various assets they have.

        On this issue it is time to lighten up.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 6.3.1.1

          Unless, of course, you put money into rival proposals only to be shafted by the Prime Minister’s insider trading.

          Then it would be time to what exactly, Dr. Mapp?

          • yeshe 6.3.1.1.1

            +100 OAB

            and how about commercial land valued independently before sale ? It’s not just the sale; it’s the pittance of the purchase price.

        • Murray Olsen 6.3.1.2

          Does the S in SOE actually stand for private property of the directors? State Owned Enterprises are owned by the state, even though you no doubt see them as back door privatisation. Land is a finite resource. Why are we selling our land cheap to build hotels for the profit of casino owners? Why did we never get to make an informed decision?

          Nah, Wayne. I won’t be lightening up. Key is reading from the same script as Harper. The aim is to slowly and sneakily do away with civil society.

          • Wayne 6.3.1.2.1

            I imagine the sale was at normal commercial prices.

            • yeshe 6.3.1.2.1.1

              Imagine all you will, Wayne. It wasn’t. Check for yourself. Please.

              I imagine a New Zealand with no starving kids. But it doesn’t make it so.

  7. Penny Bright 7

    Prime Minister John Key may be ‘comfortable with the process and changes proposed’ – but as a proven anti-corruption campaigner, I am appalled.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11335925

    SkyCity is building its new hotel on land surrendered by the taxpayer for the creation of the $402 million convention centre, the Herald can reveal.

    It is just one of a number of changes to the deal in which the Government gave the casino company gambling concessions in return for building the centre.

    The decision to build a hotel on the former TVNZ property came just three months after the casino company bought the land – the result of three years campaigning for it on the premise it was needed to build the convention centre.

    It means SkyCity will now have three major hotels offering 1000 beds within a stone’s throw of the convention centre.

    The accommodation boom will add to the boosted income SkyCity will earn from its special law to allow increased gambling which the Government traded for the building of the centre.
    …….

    The need for the land was written into the July 2013 contract with the Government, saying it would build a smaller and less suitable convention centre if TVNZ would not sell it the land. SkyCity bought the land in September 2013.

    A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said the casino approached officials three months later to negotiate a change to include the hotel.

    She said Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce was told just before Christmas and kept briefed until the design was finalised in May. It was announced publicly in August.

    SkyCity’s “need” to obtain the TVNZ land for its convention centre was such that Prime Minister John Key told Parliament last year the firm needed more land for the design of the centre. “The place it was going to be built, it was quite clear, was TVNZ’s land.”

    A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said Mr Key was comfortable with the process and the changes proposed…”

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    How ‘shonky’ is this?

    Seems that with ex-Wall Street ‘casino capitalist’ NZ Prime Minister in charge, Sky City can do as they please?

    If no one has done any ‘due diligence’ on the increased risk of money-laundering arising from the Sky City ‘deal’ that was later entrenched in the NZ International Convention Centre Act 2013 – wouldn’t it be fair to say that on Prime Minister John Key’s watch, Sky City have been effectively able to set up, in the heart of Auckland City, a ‘money-laundering factory’?

    No one who is anyone – including PM John Key, Minister Steven Joyce, OFCANZ, Auckland Council, and Auckland Central Police – did ANY ‘due diligence’ on the increased risk of money-laundering arising from the NZ International Convention Centre (Bill) Act 2013.

    For starters – here is the OIA reply from OFCANZ, who get $10 million a year as part of ‘Vote Police’ to supposedly help prevent money-laundering – where they admit that they did NO ‘due diligence’:

    http://www.pennybright4mayor.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/SKY-CITY-OFCANZ-OIA-REPLY-NO-DUE-DLIGENCE-RE-MONEY-LAUNDERING-bright-penny-06-c211711-2-sent-reply.pdf

    More background FACTS and EVIDENCE is available here :

    http://www.pennybright4mayor.org.nz/2013/11/

    Is this why I’m being ‘neck-stamped’ as an anti-corruption ‘whistleblower’ – because I’m telling the truth and alerting the public?

    Penny Bright

  8. fambo 8

    I seem to recall over 50 percent of those who participated in the last elections actually voted for mass survelliance so I guess this is just a case of giving the people what they wanted. All complaints from National voters should go in the big box marked “Complaints” to be recycled as toilet paper.

    • Peter 8.1

      The 30% majority are comfortable with what ever Mr Key decides. He will have the time of his life over the next three years and beyond, as this country now belongs to him.

    • karol 8.2

      Where is the evidence people voted for mass surveillance? John Key always has insisted there is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders. So many people will have voted with that in mind.

  9. adam 9

    I’ve been joking with my mates for quite a while about AT, we came up with a nickname and we’d been calling it that for a while.

    We’ve been calling them Auckland’s Traitors.

    This bad joke/play on words, has just got a ring to truth to it now, especially after reading this -thanks Karol – I think…

  10. Laurie 10

    Hey here is a way to stuff them…

    [Deleted]

    [lprent: advocating acts of property damage is not allowed ]

  11. I’m just curious what all their surveillance and data is ogoing to show up. They’re probably going to have a tonne of self storage units chock full of all their archives and records before we actually get anything truly concrete out of their findings. At the end of the day, it’s probably just another way to generate profit for those companies than actually trying to do anything to better the situation.

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  • New Ambassador to Russia announced
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