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National’s veto power makes SkyCity deal dirtier

18 July 2013

National’s veto power makes SkyCity deal dirtier

SkyCity deal documents show how the National Government ignored warnings about the damage its dirty deal with SkyCity would do and instead, focused on getting itself the power to block groups it doesn’t like from using the convention centre, Green Party gambling spokesperson Denise Roche said today.

Documents released yesterday reveal how SkyCity and the Government wrangled over what kind of right the Crown would have to block events that it didn’t like from being held at the New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC). The final agreement gives the Government a veto right over events at the NZICC that it considers could be “materially prejudicial” to New Zealand’s international relations or national security or the NZICC’s brand, or are simply deemed not to be of a suitable "type and style" for the NZICC.

“The records of the negotiations show that National didn’t care about inflicting gambling harm on thousands of New Zealand families as a result of its dirty deal, but it put a lot of effort into making sure it can ban groups it doesn’t like from using the convention centre,” said Ms Roche.

“The New Zealand International Convention Centre must be open to all people to hold events, not just those in favour with the government of the day.

“What groups will the National Government consider “unsuitable” for the convention centre? Would anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership groups be banned from holding meetings there for the crime of opposing National’s trade agenda? Would National block a figure like the Dalai Lama from giving a speech at our country’s premier convention centre so as not to offend China?

“The right to veto events that the National Government decides aren’t ‘suitable’ or good for the convention centre’s ‘brand’ is very broad and open to abuse. Will opponents of the National Government find that they are not welcome at what is supposed to be our national convention centre?

“Siting the Convention Centre in conjunction with a casino will already rule it out as a destination for many groups who don’t want to associate themselves with gambling. The National Government’s wide veto right sets up a further barrier.

“One thing that is certain is that National will be allowed to keep holding its meetings at SkyCity.

“These revelations add further weight to Treasury’s warning that the SkyCity deal isn’t in the public interest. It’s clear that SkyCity was focused on its own profit interests and the National Government was focused on its political interests. The interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders simply didn’t enter into their consideration,” said Ms Roche.

Relevant provisions in the SkyCity deal:

7 Cancellation of Events

7.1 Where the Crown Liaison learns of an Event enquiry:

a) by being notified by the SKYCITY Liaison of an Event enquiry in respect of which SKYCITY has doubts as to its suitability (in accordance with the Event Appropriateness Guidelines section of the Booking Management section of Appendix B (Operational Obligations)); or

b) from a source other than from the SKYCITY Liaison, and notifies the SKYCITY Liaison that the Crown Liaison has a concern,

SKYCITY will not accept any booking for that Event without the Crown’s approval, such approval not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed.

Event Appropriateness Guidelines

· In considering the acceptance of bookings for Events to be held at the NZICC, SKYCITY must use good judgement in considering first the type and style of Events that are best suited to the NZICC and secondly Events that would not reasonably be expected to be materially prejudicial to international relations or to national security interests of New Zealand and would not reasonably be expected to materially affect the reputation or brand of the NZICC.

· Where SKYCITY has any doubt as to the suitability of an Event (including where the NZICC brand, or New Zealand’s international relations, could reasonably be expected to materially and adversely be affected by the subject matter or any sponsor of the Event) the SKYCITY Liaison may consult with the Crown Liaison as soon as practicable, in advance of confirming the business, to seek the Crown’s approval to such Event.

ends


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