12 Nov 2013

SkyCity bill passes final hurdle

10:16 pm on 12 November 2013

Legislation putting the convention centre deal between SkyCity and the Government into effect has been passed in Parliament.

The New Zealand International Convention Centre Bill will allow SkyCity to expand its gaming operations in return for building the $402 million complex in Auckland.

Bill English says job creation the key to more equality.

Bill English says job creation the key to more equality. Photo: RNZ

The bill was passed in a conscience vote of 61 to 59 on Tuesday. The Labour and Green parties voted against the bill.

Earlier, Finance Minister Bill English attacked the Green Party's opposition to convention centre deal.

Mr English told the House the deal will create jobs and growth and criticised the Greens, saying poker machine numbers rose under the previous Labour Government and they were as quiet as church mice.

"Where were the Greens in 2001? Were they building fake casinos in Aotea Square then? No they weren't."

Labour leader David Cunliffe told MPs that SkyCity is getting special treatment from the Government. "The wide boys in their alligator shoes - they get preferential treatment from this nest feathering nest of Nats."

If Labour leads the next government after the 2014 election, Mr Cunliffe said the party wouldn't dig up a half-built convention centre. However, he said it would not be bound to the gaming concessions included in the deal.

"That means no guarantee of extra gaming tables, no guarantee of extra pokies, certainly no guarantee of compensation, and we will regulate to protect New Zealanders."

Meanwhile, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei has written to all MPs asking them to declare any shareholding in SkyCity.

She said under Parliament's Standing Orders, MPs must make a declaration if they are to benefit financially from business before the House.

Ms Turei said that rule would apply if an MP, their spouse, partner or child, or a trust or company they have an interest in, have shares in SkyCity.