Labour and Sky City

October 22nd, 2013 at 12:52 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Party minority view also included advice from officials confirming that the bill, including provisions that would see SkyCity compensated if any of the regulatory concessions under the deal were removed, could be amended in future.

The report states that Labour MPs “reserve the right to change the law when in government”.

Mr Key this morning said it was a convention that no Parliament could bind a future Parliament, “and that’s true of any laws or anything that takes place here so, so be it”.

That was something SkyCity was well aware of .

“Legislatively they can change any law they want but there’s also contract law in New Zealand and future Governments would probably be mindful of cutting across contract law because that has implications for other things that take place, but in the end they’re the commercial risks any operator takes.

“They won’t go there. Labour’s already telling SkyCity they won’t. I know people who have told me”, Mr Key told reporters this morning.

“They won’t get rid of the deal, that’s what I’ve heard around the traps in Auckland.”

But while Mr Cunliffe said a Labour Government “won’t be incinerating the SkyCity contract,” it would be preserving “the sovereign right of every Parliament to make sovereign legislation as required”.

The language being used here is very carefully selected to sound meaningful, when it fact it isn’t.

The issue is not about the sovereign right of every Parliament to make sovereign legislation as required. That right clearly exists and does not need preserving. There is nothing is the law before Parliament that changes that.

Labour saying they wish to preserve the sovereign right of Parliament to make sovereign legislation is about as meaningful as claiming you wish to preserve the right of gravity to be 9.8 m/s^2. The only way that could ever change is if NZ adopted a written constitution as supreme law.

The issue is whether Labour will or will not legislate to over-ride the contract, if they are in Government. And Labour won’t answer that.

Mr Cunliffe would not confirm that Labour would change the legislation, “but I would reserve the right for a future Parliament to address issues of gambling harm”.

Again, that is not the issue. No one disputes that right exists. This is a red herring. The issue is whether Labour would use legislation to over-ride the contract. The fact that they will not say so (which is a good thing incidentially), shows that there clearly is an understanding.

Mr Cunliffe had not had any discussions about the issue with the casino company, “and we’ve made no commitments whatsoever to SkyCity despite what the Prime Minister might say.

is packed full of former Labour staffers and the notion that none of them would have had any conversations with any Labour MPs on this issue is ridiculous. Of course they have.  They wouldn’t have been given a cast iron guarantee, but they would have been told something along the lines of “You have nothing to worry about”.

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30 Responses to “Labour and Sky City”

  1. dishy (224 comments) says:

    The main right that Cunliffe is reserving is the right to engage in non-committal, jingoistic, misleading rhetoric – that not even he believes – in an insulting attempt to fool the New Zealand voting public.

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  2. Pongo (371 comments) says:

    Cunliffe is cleverly following M illiband, go left and sure up the unions and the base so you have the foot soldiers on board and head of the greens then start dripping some centrist positions to capture/not scare the middle swing voter.
    Sky City deal is a pretty smart way of doing that! once legislation is passed and a 1000 construction jobs are created you can start giving it qualified support but still name it a dirty crony deal and leave the mental green co leader to make ridiculous claims about the end of civilisation. It’s a good one to back as Cunliffe looks less scary and he shores up a 50k donation.
    See through but clever.

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  3. alloytoo (430 comments) says:

    Sky city is filled with labour constituents, anybody who really believes they’ll close it down is daft.

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  4. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Mr Key this morning said it was a convention that no Parliament could bind a future Parliament, “and that’s true of any laws or anything that takes place here so, so be it”.

    It seems Key has no idea what he’s talking about.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/opinion/8684125/National-ignorant-on-how-parliament-works

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  5. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    “At the end of the day, it’s a convention that no Parliament can bind a future Parliament, and that’s true of any laws or anything that takes place here.

    “But Labour’s already telling SkyCity they won’t.”

    Mr Cunliffe refutes that claim saying the Prime Minister is lying.

    Our esteemed PM lie? Surely not. :)

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  6. lilman (883 comments) says:

    Cunliffe – knob,

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  7. Prince (90 comments) says:

    No doubt Campbell will pin Cunliffe to the wall on this issue.

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  8. flipper (3,533 comments) says:

    Silly little ross69….

    Dumb as the peoples flag mob …,always singing, and believing, solidarity forever shit.

    Go invent a time machine and go back from whence you came, dumbass.

    Cunliffe refutes…. Yeah the left always do that when lying. The day before yesterday he was selling Herne Bay, yesterday Minus T was selling Len Brown’s concubine, today it is porkies on Skycity, tomorrow it will be a toy train…….

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  9. Psycho Milt (2,246 comments) says:

    The issue is whether Labour will or will not legislate to over-ride the contract, if they are in Government.

    It is? How could it be, when Labour doesn’t know what the circumstances will be in several years’ time or what arrangements it might have to come to with coalition partners? Sounds like a non-issue.

    More of an issue is what moral basis the current government thinks it has to try and bind future governments to one of Key’s shonky deals.

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  10. tvb (4,193 comments) says:

    The Crown Law opinion saying that legislation could overturn the contract is unhelpful. No one doubts a parliament can do that. But who would want to do business with a Government that uses legislation in this way. Ms Turei of the Greens said she will repeal it but where are the other 50 votes to do that coming from. She speaks as if she has 61 votes. It is significant the Labour Party is being more cautious on this matter.

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  11. peterwn (3,140 comments) says:

    ross69 – The Government would have paid appropriate compensation for the Cotton Mill abandonment. The building was actually built and was used for car assembly. The Maraetai II Power Station was also stopped. Two turbines and generators being manufactured were re-assigned to Matahina. Manufacture of the other two had not commenced and The Government paid compensation representing the profit the manufacturer would have made if the order was completed. The ‘Daily News’ was silent on the compensation aspect, since this would have spoiled a good story.

    Labour in 2000 quite happily dumped employment tribunal members without notice or redundancy when Labour re-jigged employment legislation. Labour wanted a ‘clean slate’ when appointing new Tribunal members. So one law for tribunal employees, another for cleaners.

    What Labour/ Greens are indicating at is that Parliament is at liberty to pass legislation that cancels contracts without compensation. While it can do so in theory, it potentially causes problems as companies will tend to be unwilling to take on Government contracts without protection, eg up-front payments. Seems David Cunliffe is well aware of this, but does not want to admit it, while the Greens could not care less.

    Similar considerations would apply to charter schools.

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  12. flipper (3,533 comments) says:

    tvb (3,548) Says:
    October 22nd, 2013 at 1:55 pm
    The Crown Law opinion
    ****

    Yes it is possible. But would it happen????

    Well Labour tried that on TV and scared off Dryden, Kerridge, Wattie and UEB.
    But it cost them big $s that were not recovered until Roger Douglas took over.

    But this is the world lf 2015 (or will be). The world is different, and Skycity is operating outside NZ. Doing what the likes of the pschco one or rossie69 want would see us international investment pariahs.
    Dumb.
    Wont happen.

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  13. alwyn (380 comments) says:

    The Green Party have stated that they will simply cancel any contract with Sky City without any compensation.
    This is the same party that is, in the guise of a bill proposed by their resident expert in all things, little Gareth Hughes of Ronald McDonald suit fame, going to require the electricity companies to enter into contracts with people who put in smallscale generation schemes and to buy their power.
    To encourage people to put in these stupid systems the supply companies will have to enter into 10 year contracts and pay whatever price is needed to make it attractive to the people generating the power. I have looked at his proposed bill, and his rosy statements about it, and I cannot find anywhere where he points out that any such contract would be voidable and spending a lot of money on (probably) solar generstion could immediately go down the tubes at the whim of the Government. Why should he care of course. You can be quite sure that he would never put his own money into such a scheme. That is the sort of proposal that he would regard as being a suitable, compulsory, use of people’s KiwiSaver money if not enough idiots did it of their own volition.
    Why not tell people the truth Gareth? A 10 year contract is not a contract at all, according to your own party.

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  14. dishy (224 comments) says:

    I must say, Cunliffe is much more articulate than Shearer. Despite that, after he has finished squeaking we are equally in the dark as to what the hell he has been trying to communicate. In this regard I congratulate the duplicitous weasel.

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  15. All_on_Red (1,332 comments) says:

    Alwyn
    Gareth Hughes is just a shill for that evil multinational Greenpeace. Talk about the ultimate political lackey. He is also woefully ignorant about pretty much everything. His latest post on oceans is just a joke.

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  16. thePeoplesFlag (168 comments) says:

    “…Sky City is packed full of former Labour staffers and the notion that none of them would have had any conversations with any Labour MPs on this issue is ridiculous…”

    I don’t know about this, after all, John Palino knew nothing about the Len Brown affair.

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  17. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    Forget about Sky City… The government owns a chain of gambling shops all over the country. Is Cunliffe going to privatise these or shut them down? Surely it must be one or the other, given the damage they do to the community and problem gamblers.

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  18. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (783 comments) says:

    I am not sure whether John Key is telling the truth here to be honest. He cannot prove it. So he may as well keep his mouth shut, pass the legislation, get the convention centre cracking. He won’t be around in 2014 any way to worry about what happens. At least the convention centre will give jobs to so many people.

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  19. Catweasel321 (3 comments) says:

    #Ross69

    Good article. I think the last two paragraphs are most perceptive.

    “The conservative notion that the social, economic and political status quo represents not the transitory victory of a particular political party but the natural order of the universe, has a long and disreputable pedigree. It explains why statements of principled intent, like that from the Greens, are treated as proof not only of their wilful stupidity but of their downright wickedness.

    What such responses betray is the Rights deep-seated unease with the whole idea of democracy. National’s insistence that its deal with SkyCity – a deal many Kiwis revile as both improper and immoral – must remain sacrosanct, is, of itself, the best reason for breaking it.”

    The problem with the aging acolytes of the neo-liberal movement born of the cold war, is like all once en vogue political movements of a time, they longer they stay in power the more they resemble the establishments that went before.

    Their newly minted rhetoric is weathered and tarnished by the passage of time and empirical experience of their rule, becoming indistinguisable from that of conservative eras long passed. As WWI proved a watershed for the hangovers of 19th century born to rule mentality, so the GFC has done for their successors.

    Their ideas are now bankrupted; having failured in deliverance to the promised lands and suffering under the weight of corpulent privilege, they hold fast to the one enduring belief that trancends each iteration of establishment privilege through the ages. That theirs is the natural order and they born to rule it.

    The only problem for their subjects is that they’re not very good at it.

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  20. Catweasel321 (3 comments) says:

    Now that their chickens are coming home to roost, the chicken little’s are loudly lamenting that their Sky is falling.

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  21. OneTrack (2,564 comments) says:

    Scs – They Will have jobs until the economy collapses underneath the load of taxes, compliance costs, interest rate rises and outright stupid policies that Will come out hydra coalition. Say mid 2015 and it Will all be over – a communist
    nirvana

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  22. Harriet (4,495 comments) says:

    “……But while Mr Cunliffe said a Labour Government “won’t be incinerating the SkyCity contract,” it would be preserving “the sovereign right of every Parliament to make sovereign legislation as required”……”

    Yes……….just like Rudd did with the mining tax – and look what that did to foreign investment and foreign sentiment!

    After the $18.40 wage increase, Cunliffe is simply again ‘going early’ and getting the lo-fo voters onside.

    But that in itself is just to get a rise in the polls – ‘momentum’ – and therefor the media having ‘genuine reason’ to talk Labour up!

    It’s just more spin for the lo-fo!

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  23. Catweasel321 (3 comments) says:

    Perhaps the real take away from Labour’s position isn’t that deals with the government based on proper and due process are threatened by changes in administration but only dubious ones not subject to proper tendering but constructed at the whim of party leaders.

    As Sky City is on record as saying, their original proposal was more modest and thus not dependent on inducements; that it was JK’s desire, expressed over dinner, for a signature ‘think big’ expanison that led them too naturally respond with trade offs for the additional expense that would be incurred otherwise.

    Perhaps if the other tendors were given equal opportunity to present enlarged proposals, with their own trade offs, this whole shonky process wouldn’t have resulted in the oppositions proposed unwinding resonating with so many.

    It is only the fear of the latter which has occassioned the current constitutional lament, not the process itself.

    This is not about Parliament, breach of contract or natural justice but thwarted impropriety.

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  24. Johnboy (14,876 comments) says:

    That strange little Metiria woman is like a dog with a bone on this topic.

    I notice that the Aussie Commie Ginga is sitting back while she gives it death.

    Not that it looks like he is positioning himself or anything! :)

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  25. toad (3,668 comments) says:

    DPF:

    The issue is whether Labour would use legislation to over-ride the contract.

    The Greens are unequivocal about this – if they can get the numbers in Parliament they will legislate over the contract.

    Because the contract is a dirty deal that results in the convention centre being largely funded by one of the most vulnerable groups in society – those with gambling problems.

    I don’t have a problem with a much bigger convention centre than what we already have. My problem is that the Nats propose to significantly fund it from the misery of families affected by problem gambling, and that the measures in the contract/Bill to mitigate against problem gambling and money laundering are likely to be totally ineffectual.

    @davidp 3:45 pm

    Forget about Sky City… The government owns a chain of gambling shops all over the country. Is Cunliffe going to privatise these or shut them down?

    Lotto & TAB addiction potential is minimal compared with pokies which are deliberately designed to be addictive. No idea what Cunliffe is proposing, but I would leave Lotto & TAB largely untouched. It is pokies that need to be clamped down on.

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  26. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    toad>but I would leave Lotto & TAB largely untouched

    You’ve never passed by the window of a TAB and seen a bunch of middle-aged blokes sitting around spending their day gambling on horses? It’s a pointless activity. It hooks vulnerable members of society who think picking winning horses involves some sort of skill where they can beat the odds. And the NZ government owns the gambling shops. Not tolerates them, or allows them to operate in exchange for the construction of tourist amenities, but OWNS them. It’s like the government owning a chain of brothels.

    I’m not concerned with Sky City. We’re avoiding hundreds of millions of convention center construction costs, and no one forces anyone to gamble there. But I object to being forced to own a chain of gambling shops, by proxy. Just sell them. Or if you’re opposed to privatisation, close the business.

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  27. Elaycee (4,286 comments) says:

    toad:

    Lotto & TAB addiction potential is minimal compared with pokies which are deliberately designed to be addictive.

    Deliberately designed to be addictive??? What total bollocks!

    No wonder the Gweens are the subject of so much ridicule – you have a dipshit idea about something and then try to peddle it as fact. But if you actually did some homework, you’d know your statement is 100% garbage.

    But thank you for confirming you haven’t got a clue about gaming machines.

    I’ll just add your latest brain fart claim to the ever increasing list…..

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  28. toad (3,668 comments) says:

    @davidp 9:57 pm

    You’ve never passed by the window of a TAB and seen a bunch of middle-aged blokes sitting around spending their day gambling on horses?

    Actually, I have. And most of them have a great day and probably spend between $50 and $100 on average over the whole day, and maybe win some back.

    On pokies, you spend that in 1/2 an hour.

    @Elaycee 9:58 pm

    Before you are so fast to ridicule my comemnt, check this out:

    Studies by a Brown University psychiatrist, Robert Breen, have found that individuals who regularly play slots become addicted three to four times faster (in one year, versus three and a half years) than those who play cards or bet on sports.

    The particular addictiveness of modern slots has to do with the solitary, continuous, rapid wagering they enable. It is possible to complete a game every three to four seconds, with no delay between one game and the next. Some machine gamblers become so caught up in the rhythm of play that it dampens their awareness of space, time and monetary value.

    Suggest you read the whole link, not just the bit I quoted above.

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  29. Elaycee (4,286 comments) says:

    @toad: An opinion article written by a regular anti-gambling zealot at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (and quoting someone else’s opinion about machine activity in Las Vegas), is hardly a ringing endorsement of your stupid claim that machines are deliberately designed to be addictive.

    For the record: All software in both Casino and Pub/Club in NZ, is tested at length by the DIA before it’s allowed to be installed. And if there was any suggestion that a programme was somehow designed to be addictive (whatever that means), the DIA would detect it / not approve it. Did you know that you can’t even add a badge to a machine in NZ unless it is approved by the DIA in advance? Nah, thought not.

    Whilst I respect you have the right to voice an opinion, I take issue with the Gween bullshit and distortions relating to gambling issues and, not for the first time on KB I find myself correcting Gween spin. Whilst Industry stats confirm around 5% of people using gaming machines in NZ have a ‘problem’ with gambling, it follows that 95% of people, don’t. And whilst there is a mechanism in place to treat ‘the 5%’ (a mechanism funded by Industry levies), the inability of the 5% to handle gambling should not preclude the 95% from using the same machines for entertainment purposes. [This is no different to a claim that, because 5% of adults can't handle liquor, this should preclude me from having a wine with my meal at night. Both suggestions are ridiculous].

    Now, I’m happy to debate the pro’s and con’s of the Sky City deal with you – but please leave the bullshit out of the debate. Because if you keep telling porkies, I’ll keep pointing them out.

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  30. Yoza (1,521 comments) says:

    [This is no different to a claim that, because 5% of adults can't handle liquor, this should preclude me from having a wine with my meal at night. Both suggestions are ridiculous].

    Same argument holds for legalising all drugs.

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