The great Sky City tax payer robbery, coming to a trough near you

Mr Joyce said he couldn’t rule out the taxpayer helping to meet part of the shortfall.

No.

No no no!

Design improvements, a new five-star hotel and inflation have rocketed up the SkyCity convention centre’s pricetag by as much as $130 million.

And while additional gambling concessions are off the table to meet any shortfall for the building, taxpayer funding is under discussion.

SkyCity yesterday lodged its resource consent application for the centre, which it’s building in return for concessions such as extra gaming machines worth as much as $42 million a year in additional profits.

Announcing the application, SkyCity chief Nigel Morrison revealed the cost of the convention centre had jumped to between $470 million and $530 million.

The casino operator had previously estimated it would cost $402 million, which it agreed to cover in return for extending its Auckland gaming licence until 2048.

SkyCity — which reported a net profit of $123.2 million last year — is now in talks with the Government on how to fund the increased cost.

In August, SkyCity announced it had increased the scope of the project, unveiling plans for a 12-storey five-star hotel.

Private Public Partnerships are agreements where the private partner takes the risk away from the public, not the other way around. ?

Why Joyce is even entertaining the thought is clearly to start to soften up the public to the idea. ?The Government doesn’t have the sort of money to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks. ?Now, argument aside about its desirability, they say we can’t?afford it. ?But then we have 27 million for a flag referendum and a nudge to a private company that they can expect the Government to consider helping out paying for their convention centre.

The deal with the tax payer was clear: ?Convention centre for more pokey machines. ?At no time did we talk about or agree to paying hard cash towards the building of an asset that will not be owned by the public.

This is part of the “dump the dirty news before Christmas” time of year, and it shows National are not shutting the door on making your taxes pay for a company’s expansion without taking an ownership in it.

Worse, this is such a visible public private partnership initiative, it’s going to be a flagship for those that will come in future. ?This will have two chilling effects: ?either PPPs are no longer considered as the public are no longer willing to underwrite commercial risk incurred by private companies, or, the precedent is accepted that commercial risks faced by the private partner is to be underwritten by the tax payer – in essence – a blank cheque.

 

– Adam Bennett, Sky City News, NZ Herald

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