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Social harm of SkyCity deal must be costed

5 May 2013

Social harm of SkyCity deal must be costed

The Government should put its SkyCity convention centre deal on hold till it has factored in the costs of social harm caused by law changes in the deal, the Green Party said today.

In Parliament today Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said that officials and consultants had not counted the cost of gambling related harm in the deal because, he said, it was not possible to count them.

“Just because the National Government doesn’t want to know the cost of increasing gambling at Skycity for 35 years doesn’t mean that there is not a cost,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

“Steven Joyce can put his fingers in his ears and shout that pokies are good for New Zealand as long as he likes, but all the evidence is that he is wrong.

“Steven Joyce won’t count the costs of increased gambling in the deal because, if he did, the public would see that the price of the casino’s convention centre is too high.

“The extra pokies SkyCity gets in the deal are the equivalent of a whole new casino.

“There are real and measureable costs associated with increased gambling which include more crime, child abuse, mental illness, family breakups, hospital admissions and suicide.

“The SkyCity deal shackles Auckland with these increased problems for 35 years.

“The Australian Productivity Commission has estimated that each problem gambler costs society up to AU$30,000 a year, and other studies by Kiwi health researchers which have shown that every 10 new pokie machines produces eight new problem gamblers.

“The Government commissioned independent financial consultants KordaMentha to analyse the value of multiple hypothetical aspects of the deal, but did not instruct KordaMentha to count the costs of social harm.

“KordaMentha is quite capable of coming up with some estimates of the costs of social aspects of increased gambling at SkyCity. They only had to be asked. It’s pretty clear why they were not,” Mrs Turei said.

ENDS

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