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Hypocrisy, T**ds And Gambling

The House rose this evening still debating legislation on the SkyCity convention centre deal.

Opposition parties strongly oppose the New Zealand International Convention Centre Bill which puts into effect a deal for SkyCity to build a National Convention Centre in exchange for expansion of its gambling operations.

Attacks on the bill mainly focussed on the issues of problem gambling and the belief the deal heavily favoured SkyCity.

Labour’s Trevor Mallard said the law would not bind future parliaments and some parts of the deal could not possibly continue under a Labour Government.

He said Labour would not suggest amendments because it was not possible to “polish a turd” (a phrase ruled as unacceptable in Parliament).

National MP Jonathon Young said the convention centre would provide benefits including boosting jobs and tourism. He said the claim it would only create 18 jobs was patently ridiculous.

Progress was slow on the bill with Trevor Mallard demanding a personal vote on a closure motion on Part One of the bill. Chairman Lindsay Tisch refused this saying the Business Committee had agreed there would only be a personal vote on Part Two of the bill.

The Speaker was recalled and during debate on the issue Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee said the matter had been agreed at the Business Committee and if MPs were going to start going back on agreements then the committee might start turning on itself.

David Carter ruled in favour of Tisch and also warned MPs they risked destroying the consensus of the Business Committee and there would be adequate opportunities to cast personal votes.

Debated became heated at time especially when the responsible minister Stephen Joyce accused senior Labour MPs of hypocrisy for completing a similar deal in 2001.

Labour MPs said the deal had been done by Judith Collins who was then head of the Casino Control Authority and Labour had changed the law to prevent such deals being done.

The House rose at 10.37pm after a series of personal votes on Part Two of the bill.

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