11 Jul 2013

Government wins first round of SkyCity bill

10:09 pm on 11 July 2013

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says the Government's bill to get a convention centre built in Auckland is about investment, growth and jobs.

Legislation that swaps a new convention centre in Auckland for concessions to SkyCity casino passed its first reading in Parliament on Thursday by 61 votes to 59 with the support of ACT and independent MP Peter Dunne.

An artist's impression of the convention centre.

An artist's impression of the convention centre. Photo: SUPPLIED

Under the deal, the casino operator will build the $400 million centre in exchange for a 27-year extension to its licence and the right to have an extra 230 pokies and up to 52 more gaming tables.

The Government estimates the convention centre will create jobs and boost the economy including tourism revenue by about $90 million a year.

Mr Joyce said on Thursday that the tourism and business sectors have been wanting a convention centre to compete with ones in Australia and Asia.

The first reading of the New Zealand International Convention Centre Bill's was a conscience vote and Mr Joyce is confident that it would be passed in full by mid-November this year.

But the Labour Party called the bill a shameful, dodgy deal that looks after the Government's mates and would hurt problem gamblers. Deputy leader Grant Robertson told Parliament that his party is disgusted by the legislation.

"This casino bill is a disgraceful piece of legislation built off a dodgy deal, done without transparency or accountability and off the back of morally bankrupt exploitation of problem gamblers. It is the epitaph of this Government - cronyism."