Need For Certainty On Benefits of SKYCITY Convention Centre
Law Society Points to Need For Certainty On Benefits of SKYCITY Convention Centre Bill
Close legal analysis of the New Zealand International Convention Centre Bill indicates that it is an unusual piece of legislation and Parliament should be sure that the benefits to New Zealand will outweigh the costs created by the Bill.
This is the view of the New Zealand Law Society, which today presented its submission on the Bill to Parliament’s Commerce Committee.
Law Society spokesperson Nick Crang said the Law Society had no view on whether the Bill was needed. It respected the right of government to propose whatever legislation it saw fit, and for Parliament to pass whatever legislation it saw fit.
“However, our detailed and technical analysis of the Bill led the Law Society to prepare a written submission which points to issues and gaps in information which should be assessed,” he said.
“This was stressed in our oral submission to the select committee. We have considered the Bill against constitutional and good law-making principles, some of which have been set by the Government and Parliament.”
Mr Crang said the Law Society’s views were driven by several factors.
“Broadly, these are the unusual character of the Bill, combined with the imbalance of advantages to the public and to SKYCITY so far as it appears from the publicly available material, and the limited ability to verify the claimed advantages in the publicly available material,” he said.
“Further helpful information has been publicly released since the Law Society made its written submission, but does not resolve these concerns.
“The Bill has some unique features. It confers a benefit on SKYCITY by way of concessions from the requirements in the Gambling Act 2003 for activities that Parliament has already identified as socially harmful.”
Mr Crang said the Law Society noted that the Bill confers a permanent “or at least very long term” advantage on SKYCITY over other casinos operating in its industry.
“While the Bill does not expressly limit the right of a future Parliament to amend or repeal it, the rights of compensation conferred by the agreement and the risk of investors seeking compensation under international treaty obligations could deter future Parliaments from making amendments or repeals.”
The Law Society’s submission also pointed out some ambiguities in the Bill, including the operative date of the Agreement, the extent of variations from gambling laws it authorised, and the effect of termination of the Agreement on the regulatory concessions.