Labour on convention centres

May 15th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Okay most of us know that when was Government a deal was done with for 221 extra pokie machines in return for a $140 million convention centre. It seems that if you get a quango to negotiate the deal then it is a very good thing, but if a government department negotiates it is evil and bad.

But did you know Labour’s 2011 manifesto pledge a convention centre for Auckland? They said:

Business tourism is essential to NZ but we lack facilities to cater for large conferences.  If we want to be a true business tourism destination we need to have a world class conference centre and Auckland is the most practical place for it.”

Labour supports the concept of a world class Conference Centre and will work with Auckland Council in progressing such a project. “

So here’s my question? Is Labour going to announce that they will borrow $400 million to fund the convention centre directly? And will they pledge to have it Government owned and run, so that if it ever makes a loss then the taxpayer has to bail it out?

Also let us recall what Labour said about the existing convention centre, that also got funded by a gaming concession:

“The potential gains from this are widespread – not only for SKYCITY but for the Auckland city region, the tourism industry and the whole of New Zealand.”  

That was Tourism Minister Mark Burton at the opening of the SKYCITY Auckland Convention Centre on 3 August 2004.

So in summary:

  • Labour had a quango do a similiar deal (but for a centre one quarter the size) in 2001
  • They proudly opened the centre as a result of the deal in 2004
  • They committed to a convention centre in 2011

So again, isn’t it time for them to front up and announce how they would pay for it?

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14 Responses to “Labour on convention centres”

  1. hannity (152 comments) says:

    “So again, isn’t it time for them to front up and announce how they would pay for it?”

    Its a shame we’ll never know, as National vetoed competing bids, ensuring there was no alternative way of paying for it.

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  2. BeaB (2,144 comments) says:

    Hannity Yes there was and we could all see it.
    WE would end up paying for it through taxes and rates even though we know convention centres don’t make money on their own.
    NZers and Labour have a special gift for looking gift horses in the mouth.
    And, of course, Labour has a proud record of spending our money for us and telling lies.

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  3. alloytoo (571 comments) says:

    So Hannity do you know of a better deal than not paying for it?

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  4. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    Okay most of us know that when Labour was Government a deal was done with Sky City for 221 extra pokie machines in return for a $140 million convention centre.

    However, most of us may not know that the deal wasn’t done by the Labour govt but by Judith Collins, and that the deal prompted that Labour govt to change the law to prevent it happening again.

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  5. YesWeDid (1,050 comments) says:

    So DPF, when you say ‘quango’ you mean the Casino Gaming Commission?

    And in 2001 the chair person of the Casino Gaming Commission was Judith Collins who a year later became a National MP.

    With Judith Collins in charge it would be a stretch to suggest that the ‘quango’ was doing a deal for Labour, which is what you are suggesting.

    [DPF: The Casino Control Authority acts for the Govt. It could have been instructed not to do a deal.]

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  6. seanmaitland (501 comments) says:

    Psycho – how did she manage that from the opposition benches?

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  7. Tristan (63 comments) says:

    I noticed you have conspicuously ignored Russell Browns post on this entitled ‘spin city ‘

    http://publicaddress.net/hardnews/spincity/

    It catches you right out here David.

    To be clear an independent board made the decision on the first convention center which was chaired by none other than Judith Collins. Labour CHANGED the law to stop it happening again.

    But hey David don’t let the truth get in the way of good spin.

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  8. OneTrack (3,221 comments) says:

    “hannity (106) Says:
    May 15th, 2013 at 10:23 am
    “So again, isn’t it time for them to front up and announce how they would pay for it?”

    Its a shame we’ll never know, as National vetoed competing bids, ensuring there was no alternative way of paying for it.

    But the other tenderers were tendering to build the center, not pay for it. So all the other options involved the taxpayer paying up. So, the reality is it would never have gone to anybody else. But you would have preferred to have wasted all those tenderers time, for a “fair” process, with them doing all the expensive work that needs to be done to come up with a tender, present it, etc. And then, after all that, you would then tell them, “Oh no, Sky are going to build one for us for free so we are going with them, thanks for your input. See you later”.

    Key did the right thing in short-circuiting the tender process.

    Unless, of course, you know one or more of the tenderers really wanted to gift a convention center to NZ for nothing. The Tooth Fairy maybe?

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  9. alloytoo (571 comments) says:

    There’s an awful lot of squealing that Judith Collins brokered the original convention centre deal.

    Is what they really saying is that Labour is incabable of brokering any sort of decent deal?

    Not much point to them is there.

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  10. Nick R (508 comments) says:

    @DPF – The Casino Control Authority was established as Commission of Inquiry under the Casino Control Act 1990. I stand to be corrected here but IIRC it did not act for the Government and the Government had no power to issue directions or instructions. It was an independent statutory body.

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  11. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    To be clear an independent board made the decision on the first convention center which was chaired by none other than Judith Collins. Labour CHANGED the law to stop it happening again.

    And they couldn’t have changed the law to stop it happening in the first place? Given what the Greens have recently reminded us, that government can legislate to do pretty much anything, it is odd that the Labour government was so peculiarly bound in this particular case.

    A board can be independent, but still report on their deliberations. Were Labour totally unaware of what was happening?

    The involvement of Judith Collins would only matter in a world where National was opposed to having Sky City build a convention centre.

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  12. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    Thank you Ministry of Justice

    The Authority is also required to make an annual report on its operations to the Minister. A copy of the Authority’s annual report (including the financial statements and audit report) must be tabled in Parliament.

    So now lets see if we can find what was in the annual report for the years before the convention centre was approved.

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  13. dishy (248 comments) says:

    The historic role of Collins / The Casino Control Authority is really neither here nor there when you look at the broader picture. But then, if you do look at the broader picture, you see what a great arrangement we have for this new convention centre. And that Labour is speaking with a forked tongue – unless Labour is really saying that a new convention centre is a good idea only if the Government borrows and or diverts funding from elsewhere to pay for it, and not a good idea if it’s paid for by the developer.

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  14. Mackie (3 comments) says:

    @tristan et al – please reference the hansard or policy manifesto references to the Casino Control Authority approval of the existing convention centre being the rationale for the Gambling Act?

    Labour conducted a major review of gambling which eventually led to the existing Gambling Act. I’m not sure the CCAs decision under Labour was the catalyst for any legislative or regulatory intervention.

    Happy to join the ritual frenzy if that’s actually the case, otherwise the last arrangement of this sort took place under a Labour administration. The fact it occurred via delegated authority doesn’t really matter. It also begs the question why Labour didn’t immediately over rule the CCAs decision either in statue, or appeal via the Department of Internal Affairs?

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