Labour and Sky City

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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