Govt has majority for SkyCity deal
Tuesday 14 May 2013 5:13 a.m.
The Government has already stitched up the numbers in parliament for legislation that will allow the SkyCity convention centre deal to go ahead.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce yesterday announced the agreement for a new $402-million international convention centre, fully funded by the casino group in exchange for a long-term extension of its licence and 230 extra pokie machines.
Labour and the Greens oppose it and anti-gambling advocates are warning it will increase problem gambling among those most at risk.
The Maori Party also opposes the deal but Mr Joyce says ACT's John Banks and United Future leader Peter Dunne will back the bill in Parliament.
Mr Banks has issued a statement saying he supports the convention centre and Mr Joyce says he has been through the legislation with Mr Dunne.
"We went through it in some detail and he was happy with it."
Prime Minister John Key is talking it up, saying the convention centre is "a critical piece of infrastructure" which will bring high-spending visitors to Auckland.
"We need to attract people who spend more, and conference visitors are valuable - they spend on average about $318 a day compared with $208 for the average visitor," he said.
Construction will begin next year on the centre, which will open in 2017 and cater for up to 3500 international conference delegates at any one time.
The deal gives SkyCity several concessions, including an extension of its Auckland casino licence to 2048, 230 extra pokie machines and up to 52 extra gaming tables.
More pokie machines will be able to accept $50 and $100 notes and cashless gaming technology will be accepted across the casino.
Organisations including Air New Zealand, BusinessNZ and the Tourism Industry Association welcomed the agreement, saying it will help New Zealand deliver on its goal of more high-value tourism.