Labour is making much of relations between National and Sky City, but what of relations with their own MPs and Sky City.
Chris Hipkins was placed with Sky City as part of the New Zealand Business and Parliament Trust scheme to educate lifelong troughers about business. Chris Hipkins explains on Red Alert:
I spent most of the past week up in Auckland on a Business and Parliament Trust placement at Sky City. The placements are a great opportunity for MPs from all parties to spend some time in a large company learning more about their business and the business environment in general. I chose Sky City for a variety of reasons, including my role as Labour‚Äôs spokesperson on gambling issues. I was also interested in the hospitality and conventions side of their business.
I found my week at Sky City an incredibly valuable one and I‚Äôd highly recommend a business placement to any MPs who haven‚Äôt already done one. I certainly hope to do another one in future years.
Interestingly Moana Mackey also spent time at SkyCity. Chris Hipkins was also full of praise for SkyCity in the newsletter of the Trust:
‚ÄúWell worthwhile. A valuable opportunity to discuss a range of ¬†business issues particularly in such a ¬†highly regulated industry.
I‚Äôm keen to do another one next year!‚ÄĚ
You can also see Chippy‚Äôs contribution to the debate on the Gambling Amendment bill. ¬†You will note that he puts aside casino pokie gambling:
It is useful to inject some more facts into the debate at this particular point. The gambling industry‚Äôs turnover, as I noted, was a little over $14 billion in 2007, and money lost was just over $2 billion, of which about $950 million was lost on non-casino pokie machines. That is a very significant amount of money. I am told that the money collected from non-casino pokie machines is roughly the equivalent of the entire operating cost of the New Zealand Police. Up to 42 percent of the revenue from pokie machines is from problem gamblers‚ÄĒpeople who have been identified as having a problem. They make up around 3 percent of gamblers, so a small number of people are gambling a very large sum of money through these pokie machines. Six major societies distribute around 60 percent of all non-casino expenditure funding to community organisations and each pokie-machine grant is approximately $2,438. There were 1,537 gambling venues and nearly 20,000 pokie machines in New Zealand as at December last year. Every day, $2.7 million is lost on non-casino pokie machines.
So Chris Hipkins, in speaking on a bill, was saying that non-casino pokie machines are far worse for society, and yet they now oppose the consolidation of pokie machines in SkyCity, essentially removing 500 machines from the community.
This debate took place on 5 May 2009.¬† His week long attachment to Sky City as part of the Business Parliamentary Trust took didn‚Äôt take place until 3 Oct 2009, however he “chose” Sky City in May 2009.
Chris Hipkins looks like he has been an able and loyal servant of SkyCity. I wonder how many times Sky City also hosted him in their corporate box for the rugby, basketball or any other corporate function?