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Joyce’s dirty deals: international convention centre

Written By: - Date published: 8:35 am, February 23rd, 2012 - 56 comments
Categories: capitalism, corruption, Steven Joyce - Tags: , , ,

Steven ‘White Elephant’ Joyce isn’t content with building highways to nowhere with costs that exceed the benefits. Now he wants an international convention centre in Auckland that’s just as pointless. But he doesn’t want the government to pay. So, he’s cutting a dirty deal with more law for sale and more pokie machines blighting our communities.

The Auckland Convention Centre doesn’t make any sense. The big idea is basically ‘build it and they will come’ – construct a honking great convention centre and all this international organisations will just decide to spend a couple more thousand per head flying their attendees to the most isolated country on earth for their international conferences. MED’s analysis (which ignores the affect higher oil prices and better tele-presence technology are already having on the the market for international conferences, and blithely discounts the economic crisis) estimates that for every dollar spent, New Zealand would reap between 67 cents and $1.61 in benefits. The comparator I like to use is that early childhood education has a BCR of better $6 and $10 for every dollar invested.

Now, I guess even Bill English can do the sums on this one, because the government isn’t going to pay for the convention centre itself. Instead,Joyce is cutting a dirty deal to make it worth SkyCity’s while to build it.

The convention centre isn’t an economic proposition itself, so Joyce is planning to give them something they do value – licences for 350 to 500 more pokie machines and some other kickbacks.

The Problem Gambling Association estimates that each additional pokie machine creates an extra problem gambler and Auckland it meant to have a sinking lid on the number of the fucken things but that’s fallen by the wayside (is this shit the reason we all fought for you, Len?) and Joyce is preparing a Bill specifically to give favours to SkyCity. It will be a Bill that will pass by one vote as the Maori Party will almost certainly oppose more pokie machines afflicting their people. That one crucial vote will be that man Peter Dunne – who is well-known to be in the pockets of the gambling industry.

The rich get their convention centre. The poor get addicted to gambling.

Once again, our Parliament will spend its time passing a law specially to benefit a company – one that is already a legislative monopoly so that it will build a white elephant convention centre. Meanwhile, poverty rises, quarter of a million Kiwis are jobless, and the government’s too busy to do anything about it.


56 comments on “Joyce’s dirty deals: international convention centre”

  1. higherstandard 1

    As a taxpayer and an Auckland ratepayer can I state how pleased I am that I am not being fleeced to pay for this convention centre.

    • Zetetic 1.1

      false dichotomy.

      The choice isn’t between the ratepayer paying or Joyce’s dirty ‘law for sale’ deal that will see more people addicted to gambling.

      You could just not build the fucken thing.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 1.2

      But it’s ok for gambling addicts to be fleeced instead?

      • higherstandard 1.2.1

        People have a choice go to the Casino/lotto shop and be fleeced or don’t go to the Casino/lotto shop, it’s a bit like booze and tobacco in my ideal society they wouldn’t exist.

        • Colonial Viper

          the bullshit “choice” argument? either you think some activities are hazardous and need to be controlled/minimised or not. You also just ignored the deliberately designed neurobiologically habit forming nature of some of these activities which means more than ever that the illusion of “choice” is exactly that.

          • higherstandard

            Ok let’s close down the Auckland casino then – you can pass that on to whatever political party/mayoral candidate that wants to run on that ticket along with the associated job losses and loss of return to shareholders.

            Oh and let’s ban the lotto as well.

            Alternatively let’s not ban it and put in place some controls to minimise abuse by those who can’t afford to gamble the money away.

            • Colonial Viper

              You don’t believe its possible to have a modern advanced prosperous nation without casinos? Singapore only got its first casino a couple of years ago.

              Worth bearing in mind that corporate led community wealth extraction mechanisms esp. those which go on to externalise massive social damage, need to be severely curtailed.

              • higherstandard

                “You don’t believe its possible to have a modern advanced prosperous nation without casinos? Singapore only got its first casino a couple of years ago.”

                Um what ? Where did I state that ?

                “Worth bearing in mind that corporate led community wealth extraction mechanisms esp. those which go on to externalise massive social damage, need to be severely curtailed.”

                Agreed also worth bearing in mind that government/local body led community wealth extraction mechanisms esp. those which go on to externalise massive social damage, need to be severely curtailed.

                • McFlock

                  “Agreed also worth bearing in mind that government/local body led community wealth extraction mechanisms esp. those which go on to externalise massive social damage, need to be severely curtailed.”
                  Agreed – cancel the convention centre of doubtful benefit, cut the number of pokies with confirmed costs, and invest in giving our workforce better skills than dealing cards and serving drinks.

              • Fermionic Interference

                And the casino in Singapore is free entry to foreigners but costs (last I heard) $100 SG to enter for SG citizens to protect locals from gambling addiction.

            • Jackal

              CV Is right… there is no way the “personal choice” argument holds any water. The government has a responsibility to ensure society is not plagued by gambling etc.

              National is meant to be working for the people, not their corporate mates that have little concern for the societal harm their destructive businesses and greed causes.

              • Populuxe1

                Absolutely – addiction negates free will at the basic level. Something Neolibs never grasp.

            • Kotahi Tane Huna

              “Some controls to minimise abuse…” Like a maximum number of pokies for example?

              Like not offering regulatory changes in exchange for development projects?

              I cannot see how you can marry your distaste for gambling with your support for this government.

              • higherstandard

                Lie alcohol the casino genie has been let out of the bag and exists in our society whether we like it or not.

                To dismantle it now is possible but would be difficult and cost significant jobs etc etc.
                From my perspective to drop another couple of hundred pokie machines into the casino is unlikely to add much to the deleterious effect that already exists.

                Again let me state my original position that was somewhat removed from the discussion you seem keen to have.

                ‘As a taxpayer and an Auckland ratepayer can I state how pleased I am that I am not being fleeced to pay for this convention centre.”

                • Kotahi Tane Huna

                  Ah, but you will, as Peter points out below – in the extra social and economic costs associated with the extra gambling it will bring.

                  “unlikely to add much to the deleterious effect that already exists.” No, that’s not what the Problem Gambling Association says – and Eddie’s original article points out.

                  You have no opinion on the trade in regulatory standards?

                • Ianupnorth

                  But you can force much of the gambling genie back into the bottle by limiting access to Pokies, the TAB, etc.
                  Re. your last line, for once I tend to agree; we already have too many unused convention centres (see my comment at 10)

                  • higherstandard

                    I agree with your Ian, however, if action is taken to limit such access you will then be howled down by commenters here about the govt. restricting individuals rights to spend money on what they want when they want.

                    • Kotahi Tane Huna

                      Um, no. Plenty of places have already implemented “sinking lid” policies without any such display of outrage.

                • Jenny

                  You will be, don’t worry. When the thing becomes uneconomic just wait until the delays, cost over runs and other hidden costs all rise to the surface.

        • Fortran

          I hate being forced to go into a Casino, or to take up smoking.

          • Uturn

            What forces you to comment here?

            • Ianupnorth

              I’ll answer that for Fortran; the genetic code that makes RWNJ’s immune to criticism or self-awareness

          • Jenny

            Poverty, desperation, forces (some) people into casinos to take an almost hopeless risk. Mostly those made victims by the failed neo-liberal experiment.

    • Peter 1.3

      But you will be paying for the social cost of problem gambling!

  2. Tom Gould 2

    After the Warners deal, nothing is off the table with these guys. Didn’t they have their swanky election night party at Sky City? Did they pay for it? Normal commercial rates? And Key now wants to give our tax records to Google for safe keeping? They cannot talk about any of these deals, of course, due to ‘commercial sensitivities’. Hahaha!!! And the MSM let them get away with it. Lazy slugs.

    • marsman 2.1

      Everything these slimeballs do is destructive to NZ but profitable for their corporate chums. They have no sense of community of fairness or of decency. They are scum of the lowest order.

    • SandFly 2.2

      And not forgetting using our security forces to protect Warner n Co’s distribution channels by disrupting Dotcom n Co.

  3. Kotahi Tane Huna 3

    Fairfax media covered this last year by comparing the Australian response in a similar situation.

    “State treasurer Jack Snelling went scathingly public on the idea last week, describing how he planned to deal with casino officials at a coming meeting.
    “I will tell them they are dreaming,” he said. “There is no way we are going soft on them in our discussions [over the licence] in exchange for them investing in the Riverbank.”
    The whole proposal was “a bit of a try on”, said Snelling.
    So annoyed was Snelling with the attempted linkage, he invoked the spectre of ending the casino’s exclusive licence.

    The National Party is corrupt. It represents foreign interests against the country.

    • Vicky32 3.1

      “I will tell them they are dreaming,” he said. “There is no way we are going soft on them in our discussions [over the licence] in exchange for them investing in the Riverbank.”
      The whole proposal was “a bit of a try on”, said Snelling.

      Quite a contrast!

      • Kotahi Tane Huna 3.1.1

        Yes. There is no corruption in New Zealand, we just have lower standards.

        • Jenny

          Great link up KTH. And so true.

          With the example you have provided.
          You have skewered this corrupt and immoral politician with a real world contrast with someone with morals.

          Snelling’s sense of moral outrage, not motivated by a single shred of self interest, in contrast to Joyce’s immoral trade off.

          No doubt at the end of his political career Joyce will be well rewarded in the traditional way, with a directorship, or some such.

  4. HappyGoLucky 4

    An easy way to stop this is to get Len Brown, who is a Labour member and an avowedly left-leaning Mayor, to come out and oppose this deal of pokies for a convention centre.

    C’mon Len, get off the Ports of Auckland fence and do something about pokies!

    • Tom Gould 4.1

      Another approach might be for the Tories new besties, the Greens, to cut it as part of their coming deal? Now that’s real bargaining power. Come on, Metiria, put your baubles where your mouth is.

    • Jenny 4.2

      You mean ol’, roll over, Brown. Happy with union busting, and the paving over of the Waitemata Harbour.

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    NZ law is no more than a business bargaining chip which can be given away for the right NACT deal.

  6. ghostwhowalksnz 6

    You have forgotten about the reduced casino duty and gambling machine turnover tax that Skycity wants ‘adjusted’ to more in line with their Australian operations. This is the real stickler

    Morrison confirmed that an early renewal of New Zealand licences that fall due in 2021 was still among the issues that were on the table.

    He insists “it’s not worth hundreds of millions of dollars”. But he acknowledged that renewal – avoiding another regulatory review – might be very valuable to the company.

    SkyCity is seeking additional rights to pokie machines and table games. It is seeking removal of any rules in New Zealand that are more restrictive than its casinos face in Sydney or Melbourne.

    The last part is incorrect as Skycity casinos are in Adelaide and Darwin

  7. Macro 7

    Talking of Australian operations
    Here is an ABC report on Perth’s new (as it was then 2006) convention centre
    Latest news is that the folks running it now want an “upgrade” after 8 years. Maybe because there are just too damn many of the things and fewer who can afford them.

  8. Hami Shearlie 8

    Love the “white elephant” tag for Steven Joyce. I’ve always thought he reminded me of an elephant. The shape of that head! Give him a trunk and huge lobes and there you have a nz jumbo. Without the noble and fine qualities of a real elephant though, you know, like loyalty, protecting the weak, faithfulness, marvellous memory etc!!

  9. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 9

    The rich get their convention centre. The poor get addicted to gambling.

    You mean the stupid get addicted to gambling, surely. Or do you consider them to be the same people?

    Mustn’t let the poor make their own decisions.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Wealthy people get addicted to the pokies/gambling and flush their fortunes away too. They can hid it for a bit longer obviosuly.

      Mustn’t let the poor make their own decisions.

      Musn’t let the poor be manipulated by gambling machine design psychologists, more like. Do you really naively think that the addictiveness of the pokies is an accident???

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 9.1.1

        You had best have that argument with Eddie. He clearly thinks that it is the poor who are addicted to pokies.

        • Colonial Viper

          Mental health problems exist across the income spectrum. More prominent and visible amongst the poor of course, but the number of people from wealthy families who are fully fucked up cannot be underestimated either. Depression, medication/alcohol dependence, drug use, AWOL children etc.

      • Macro 9.1.2

        As the residents of Upper Hutt can testify pdf.
        Renshaw and Edwards – both prominent Lawyers in Upper Hutt defrauded their clients to the tune of around $30 million in the early 1990’s, to finance gambling, and property speculation.

        • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

          Complain to Eddie. He is the one stereotyping the poor as gamblers.

    • felix 9.2

      Pokies are nothing but machines for creating money out of misery, and it doesn’t matter to me whose misery it is. They should all be fucking crushed. There’s a job for Collins if she ever decides to do something useful with her life.

      Oh shit, see what I did? I just unwittingly bought into the “wealth creation” bullshit, didn’t I. Of course pokies don’t “create money”, they just take it from the many and concentrate it in the hands of the few.


  10. Ianupnorth 10

    On Convention Centres…..
    Claudelands Events Centre, supposedly losing heaps
    Rotorua Energy Events Centre, supposedly losing heaps
    TECT Events Centre at the Mount, already losing heaps.
    Don’t know about Taupo’s ‘Great lakes’ convention centre, but guessing it would be in the same situation.
    Who are they built for? presumably the egos of local councillors?

    • Uturn 10.1

      If that’s the case, the trick with this deal is that National will ultimately be screwing it’s dumb rich mates, or as one gunnery sargeant put it, they’re the type of guys that would “…fuck a person in the ass and not even have the goddamn common courtesy to give him a reach-around.”

      Lots of complaints here about the damage the Nats and supporters do to people they don’t like – not much to be done about that from here – but there is a certain black humour in that those types hate their friends too. What a souless bunch of zombies; ripping each other apart in a race to be the the most dead inside before they hit the cemetary. Then they come on here complaining about their political enemies stereotyping the poor as gambling addicts, people they stereotype as lazy scum themselves; or crying for the welfare of Indian sweat shop workers that keep them in high fashion each season and that if they didn’t buy the stuff the poor in India would starve. Die starving scum, but not before you finish my next shirt!

      You have to admit, these people are so base in their abilities that they are unintentionally hilarious. Even hamsters get off the treadmill once in a while. Are the Young Nats actually genuine or some kind of ironic satire theatre company?

  11. tc 11

    What about the Viaduct events centre that was recently completed and the cloud and the eden park temporary rennovations, Wynyard quarter and then there’s all the work on train stations for RWC now being pulled down and redone for various reasons.

    We totally suck at this long term do it right first time infratsructure stuff and as much as I think mallard’s a tosser he was right about a waterfront stadium or something alongside the CBD where transport hubs are and water access for ferries exist.

  12. shorts 12

    why do we even need a(nother) convention centre, seems to me we have too many as it is

  13. Jim in Tokyo 13


    • Ianupnorth 13.1

      Better still remove cars from Tamaki Drive and replace it with a modern tram system and safe cycle routes, then Auckland can claim to be a livable place.

  14. lefty 14

    If you want to understand any government decision to do with pokies there is just one way to do so.

    Follow the money.

  15. Carol 15

    Eddie summarised Joyce’s plan as:

    The big idea is basically ‘build it and they will come’

    Or maybe it’s:


  16. DH 16

    There’s a big red flag waving on this. Convention centres are the remit of local Govt, MED should not be involved in this at all. A new convention centre in Auckland would merely pull convention business away from other cities like Wellington, central Govt doesn’t get involved in such municipal economic activity. The flagrant breach of process is concerning & strongly suggestive of ulterior motives.

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