19 Apr 2012

PM defends his approach to SkyCity about centre

1:15 pm on 19 April 2012

Prime Minister John Key is defending his approach to SkyCity to come up with a deal to build a convention centre, which is likely to allow its casino to operate more gaming machines

John Key says as a stand-alone entity the convention centre would not support the return on capital needed to build it.

He says if it is to be built without government investment then it needs to be cross-subsidised.

Mr Key refuses to disclose details of negotiations he had with SkyCity, but acknowledges that its Auckland casino will be able to increase the number of gaming machines it operates if a deal is reached on the convention centre.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party has launched a web-page that allows people to submit a message to Mr Key, asking that he come clean on the deal.

Opposition parties are accusing Mr Key of selling out legislation aimed at stopping casinos getting bigger.

Labour leader David Shearer says there should be a transparent process for a convention centre and he is supporting the Green Party's call for the tender process to be reopened.

Process murky - Greens

Greens' co-leader Metiria Turei says the SkyCity negotiations mean those who bid for the tender were not on a level playing-field.

"There's just so much murkiness around this whole deal, including John Key's involvement now, that the only reasonable action is to can it and allow for a open process where it's very clear to the public and the tenderers what's on the table."