Steve Joyce throws Auckland Council under the Sky City bus

Joyce is on an end of year rampage, first suggesting the government may have to put tax payer funds into the Sky City developments, and – having learned that was a mistake – he’s suggesting Lusty Lyin’ Len might use rate payers’ money to prop up a private company’s asset development.

The Government suggested Auckland Council could get involved, with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce telling Morning Report yesterday Wellington Council had underwritten some costs for the convention centre proposed for the capital.

But the notion was met with dissent from several Auckland Council councillors, who said they did not think the Auckland body could afford it.

Please note the response wasn’t “get your hands off public money”, but instead it’s a “we would if we could, but we just can’t”.

Don’t people in central and local government understand that public money should be spent on public projects, and not given to a profit making private company to pay for their privately owned assets?

Councillors Arthur Anae, Dick Quax, and George Wood said the council’s budget was tight enough already.

Mr Anae said the city needed a convention centre for its growth and development.

“We’re struggling with the budget at this point in time, to try and deliver what we said we would, and that’s by keeping rates down as people demand, so I have a concern as to how we would do it,” he said.

“But we do need to do it … so I would be concerned if there is a further delay in this.”

He said the Government had done the deal with the casino, and it was the casino’s responsibility to find the money and deliver as it said it would.

“The casino made a commitment to deliver for Auckland, in exchange for certain services they were granted by the Government – that’s the beginning and that’s the end of it where I’m concerned.”

So Auckland Council have told Joyce to, erm, go away.

How’s Sky City feeling about this?  It appears they are playing hardball and throwing the toys out of the cot.

SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison yesterday also confirmed his company wants a taxpayer-funded top-up and was willing to walk away from the deal if it doesn’t get it…

It’s like this.  Unless the deal is made, and it can be enforced, it’s time for the Government to walk away from this, and FAST.

Obviously Sky City are there to try and manipulate as much public funds from tax and rate payers as possible, and trying to put pressure on Joyce, Eagleson and by extension John Key by hanging a clanger of a backdown over their heads.

The Government should send out a big “get stuffed” message, and kill the deal.

The damage of going ahead and getting manipulated into putting more public money in, something which I suspect would not be the only time before the project ends, will be less than the voter revolt that is already brewing.

The Government must ditch the Sky City Convention Centre PPP.  Now.


– Nichole Pryor, RNZ.  NZ Herald

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