Can NZ First give John Key the “out” he’s looking for?

The Government isn’t worried about a members’ Bill that would torpedo the Auckland convention centre deal.

New Zealand First’s Tracey Martin wants to strip SkyCity of all the special benefits it received – like extra gaming tables and more pokies.

That would put an end to the current agreement and could cost taxpayers millions.

However, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is unruffled.

“I would suspect that the parties will line up in a similar fashion as they have previously, so I don’t have a concern that this time.” Read more »

International convention centre – yeah right


While Steve Joyce and SkyCity battle over how many columns there‚Äôll be at the convention centre, some tricky questions need to be asked about precisely how large the ‚Äėinternational size and standard‚Äô convention centre is going to be.

When the¬†SkyCity deal was first announced the public were promised a convention centre that could hold between 3,500 and 5,000 delegates. But the plans they‚Äôve filed with the Auckland Council are only half that size. ¬† Read more »

Trouble in coalition land?

We’ve had two terms when the National-led coalition government did a pretty good job at presenting a united front. ¬†With the exception of Peter Dunne, who already went troppo over the last few years (did this coincide with legal highs?), the other partners didn’t openly defy National.

That has changed.  In spite of National being returned with a record-breaking 3rd term majority under MMP, its coalition partners and indeed National itself are now openly fighting in front of the kids.

There won’t be a referendum on national super while John Key is Prime Minister.

He has shot down ACT leader David Seymour’s call for the people to decide how superannuation should be funded.

Mr Seymour told his party’s annual conference on Saturday the current scheme wasn’t viable in the long term and there had to be changes to make it financially sustainable.

He wants an expert group appointed to come up with options for a referendum, and says raising the age from 65 isn’t the only one available.

Mr Key isn’t interested and says Mr Seymour, a government ally, didn’t talk to him before raising the issue.

“I read about it in the newspaper,” he said.

“There won’t be a referendum. The National Party is clear on super – the age should stay at 65 and the entitlement at 66 percent (of the average wage).”

During the 2008 election campaign, which he won, Mr Key pledged that if there was any change to national super under his watch he would resign from parliament.

There you go. ¬†“Don’t broadside me in the media, son”, says Key to minnow David. ¬† “We do these things behind the scenes where I can tell you to stop playing games.”

Says one commenter:

John Key has no problem spending $26 million on flag referendum but unwilling to spend any money on one as important as the future financial security of our country and how to fund superannuation.

But add this to Peter Dunne and the Maori Party being extremely vocal against sending New Zealand troops to Iraq, and in public at least, this coalition government looks far from a cohesive team.

I don’t get a sense this is by design. ¬† Key’s having trouble with his back bench, can’t see eye to eye with Joyce who wants to keep giving money away to SkyCity and Team New Zealand no matter the public opposition, had to pull the plug on Parata’s charter schools, is getting constant static from Bill English over delivering a surplus, and he’s now bickering with coalition partners through the media.

To seasoned observers, these are interesting developments.

– NZN via 3 News

Read more »

Little understanding of how business works from Labour leader

His leadership is a dog's breakfast and tastes as good too

His leadership is a dog’s breakfast and tastes as good too

Andrew Little is back to being Angry Andy, with a bit of dunderhead Andy thrown in.

The man clearly has no understanding of business when he utters inanities like this.

Mr Joyce conceded that a smaller convention centre would be less attractive to some groups and could result in missed business “at the margins”.

Asked if he was hopeful SkyCity might soften any downsizing by spending more than the agreed $402 million, Mr Joyce said indications were that it wasn’t off the table.

“They are already making comments in that regard, so, let’s see.”

But Labour leader Andrew Little said a government under his leadership would be tougher. Read more »

Flash isn’t even a good descriptor

John Key says that SkyCity’s convention centre plan was too flash.

Prime Minister John Key says the SkyCity convention centre plan grew in both size and “flashness” until a public backlash persuaded the Government not to spend any more money on it.

SkyCity may need to shrink its international convention centre after public funding was ruled out, prompting critics to question whether the plan for a “world-class, iconic” building in downtown Auckland is now fading away.

“It grew from 33,000 square metres to 38,000 square metres. It did get a bit flasher,” he told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB this morning.

“Some of the points SkyCity were making were totally valid. But in the end I just think that public opinion on this thing, rightly so, was: ‘There’s a deal, leave it as the contract said, even if SkyCity were right, it’s possibly gone up a little more, we all need to live within our means’, and that’s what we are going to do.”


Sky City’s convention centre appears to be gold plated. Well at least it must be. ¬† Read more »

SkyCity folds

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today announced that the Government and SkyCity have reached agreement on the next stages of the International Convention Centre (NZICC) project.

SkyCity has agreed not to pursue a financial contribution from the Government and instead will amend its design to ensure the facility can be completed without financial input from the Crown.

‚ÄúI welcome SkyCity‚Äôs agreement with the Government‚Äôs approach,‚ÄĚ Mr Joyce says. ‚ÄúThis clears the path for the project to continue.

‚ÄúI have repeatedly stated since December that our least preferred option is for the Government to contribute funding for the project. I am pleased to confirm that will be the case.‚ÄĚ

SkyCity submitted a Preliminary Design for the NZICC in October 2014 for approval by the Crown.¬† However the total constructio Read more »

The “C” word

Yesterday I wrote about the Key/Joyce/Eagleson/SkyCity debacle.  I ended the article with


Turns out that corporate shill Matthew Hooton is quite happy to use the C word today


The origins of this fiasco lie in the close private relationship established between John Key and SkyCity in the mid 2000s.¬† When he became prime minister, Mr Key surprised many when he appointed himself minister of tourism but it was old news to SkyCity. Its executives had advised business partners well before election day that things were looking up because Mr Key had ‚Äúagreed‚ÄĚ to become tourism minister. Read more »

John Key softening the SkyCity stance

John Key

He must have had Farrar on the phone with the overnight polling results, and suddenly John Key is finding a little bit of backbone.

Prime Minister John Key has toughened up his opposition to putting taxpayer cash into the planned SkyCity convention centre. Read more »

Has SkyCity already had a free taxpayer gift?


I hate to give the Greens a free hit, but this SkyCity deal smells rancid

Advice to Ministers obtained by the Green Party shows Ministers were warned in January 2014 that SkyCity’s new plan to use the former TVNZ land for a glitzy five star hotel made it much more valuable to the casino, and the deal needed to be recalculated as a result. There is no evidence ministers heeded this advice.

This follows answers to written questions from Economic Development Minister last year in which he said the deal with SkyCity “prevents the (TVNZ) land being used for any other purpose than as a convention centre” unless the Government agreed to remove a ‚Äúrestricted covenant‚ÄĚ over the use of that land. Read more »

Bill English sings from different SkyCity song sheet than Key and Joyce. What gives?

John Key says it’s all about Auckland not getting stuck with an ugly building.

Steve Joyce says it’s all about looking for a way around the problem.

Both refuse to rule out giving your money to SkyCity… for free.

But then there’s this

Bill English said using taxpayers’ money was a last resort and no one had come to him asking for it.

When the Government signed the deal with SkyCity in 2013 it was estimated the centre would cost $402 million.

“The National Party Government is not ruling out giving $100 million plus to a casino. That’s what’s on the table right now and you’ve just acknowledged you’re not ruling that out,” Dr Norman said.

“Well, no I didn’t say that. I said I’m not going to play the silly game of ruling in or ruling out,” Mr English replied.

“It’s not a silly game. This is $100 million of taxpayers’ money. It’s not a silly game Mr English. You’re responsible for the spending of taxpayers’ money,” Dr Norman said.

Outside the select committee Mr English said if the Government did decide to spend money on the centre it would have to come out of this year’s Budget.

“Depending whether it’s capital or operating it’s either from the $1 billion of operating spending or the $800 million of capital. One or the other. Both of them are pretty small pools relative to the demand,” he said.

Is this a case of Joyce and Key being good cops, and to save face, they have English running interference as bad cop? ¬† “Look SkyCity, you¬†know we would like to give you lots of free taxpayer money, but, you know, the Mrs says it ain’t on”. ¬† Read more »