- Date published:
11:15 am, January 12th, 2015 - 76 comments
Categories: accountability, business, economy, john key, Steven Joyce - Tags: auckland, convention centre, dirty deals, problem gambling, SkyCity
Thanks to Key’s fast and loose interpretation of proper process, SkyCity have played the government for fools. The Nats probably hoped to sweep the issue under the carpet with the traditional Christmas bad news dump (this year in brand new super-size!). No such luck. Even their most sycophantic commentators are concerned. An anonymous Herald editorial in December sums it up bluntly:
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says taxpayers are the Government’s “least preferred” solution to a blowout in the cost of SkyCity’s Auckland convention centre. He should not even think about it. One of the alternatives, he says, is an Auckland Council contribution. He should not think about that either.
Now to kick off the new year, David Fisher has the first of a two part series in The Herald:
Special report: A most unconventional agreement
After two years hammering out the agreement, SkyCity and the Government have yet to agree a design. The original timetable shows a final “detailed design” to be completed by July. The documents the Herald obtained show SkyCity started making changes almost immediately after it secured land from TVNZ in September 2013. The most significant was the placement of a 300-room hotel on the TVNZ land. SkyCity had said for years the land was needed for the convention centre.
At the end of last year, SkyCity said the original $402 million cost had been “revised” to $470-530 million. … Mr Morrison said SkyCity wanted a taxpayer top-up and told Radio NZ: “If New Zealand doesn’t want it … we don’t have to do this.”
There is nothing normal about the SkyCity deal, says international business mentor, management consultant and academic Patrick Rottiers. “Is this about the convention centre or about extending a virtual monopoly? The two are strongly linked from the beginning.”
Long time Standard author Eddie predicted this mess back in 2012 (see lprent’s recent review) – so why was no one in government able to see it?
Far from fading away into the Christmas haze, this looks likely to be one of the defining political issues for 2015. It highlights National’s poor process and the incompetence of two of their leading players, Key and Joyce. They will be desperate to at least avoid coughing up taxpayers’ money for SkyCity’s new demands. But SkyCity have leverage, if they walk away that is a disaster for National too (though good for NZ!). Expect some sort of messy compromise and claims of victory all round.