Final Sky City Convention Centre Deal Angers Locals

Sky City and Premier John Key have finally come to a settlement with regards to the terms of their convention centre deal. In return for Sky City spending $402 million to build Auckland’s new convention centre, the casino operator will be granted permission to install nearly 300 new games and will have its license extended.

The deal will go ahead as planned, even though the Auditor General confirmed that the deal was not entirely fair to other bidders. After the Auditor General weighed in, local residents requested that the deal be abandoned – but neither party would be deterred. Now, they have settled on a final plan – and residents are still incensed.

Sky City will spend $315 million on the construction of the centre and $87 million on land costs. In return, the casino will receive 230 new pokies and 40 new table games. The casino’s license will also be extended from 2021 to 2042.

“Sky City has been given preferential treatment from whoa to go and the Government has even bent the immigration visa rules to deliver rich gamblers to the casino,” says Rt Hon Winston Peters. “We can see little good coming from this shabby, seedy, money grubbing deal”.

It is likely that residents will protest the deal. Kiwis are not at all impressed with the terms of the deal, and they will fight to ensure that it does not go forward.

Auditor General Clarifies SkyCity Report

This week, Auditor General Phillippa Smith came forward to offer some clarification about her report concerning the SkyCity convention centre deal. She initially reported that neither the casino operator nor the local government acted inappropriately – and Prime Minister John Key announced that the report vindicated the deal. Unfortunately for him, this was not the case.

The Auditor General’s assistance was requested by the Greens in 2012. The political party felt that the deal (which would see SkyCity build the $350 million convention centre in return for 500 new pokies) was not entirely above board, and Phillippa Smith was brought in to investigate the deal.

She determined that SkyCity had been given an unfair advantage, especially since the casino operator was the government’s last choice. However, the group was willing to pay for all of the construction costs for the convention centre, so the government worked with SkyCity to improve its proposal. Although John Key claims that these findings vindicate the deal, Smith states otherwise.

As such, The Greens and other political groups feel that the tender process should be repeated. Many other groups were interested in building the convention centre, and they feel that they should be given a fair chance to bid on the project.

John Key Exaggerates Convention Centre Jobs

Prime Minister John Key is very enthusiastic about the construction of Auckland’s new convention centre, to be carried about by Sky City Casinos, and he wants the public to feel as passionately as he does about the issue. As such, he has provided some very generous estimates about job opportunities that will be provided by the new centre, but official estimates debunk these claims.

Key has stated that the new Sky City convention centre will create 900 construction jobs. As a $350 million project, he estimated that the construction of the centre would require hundreds of workers worth of manpower. Key also claimed that 800 permanent jobs would also result from the new convention centre.

A feasibility study by Horvath Ltd. shows that the actual numbers are not as generous. According to the report, between 315 and 500 people would be hired as a result of the new convention centre’s construction. These numbers not only refer to the number of individuals working in the centre but also to those working in related industries: for example taxi drivers and hotel workers.