Key gave unfair advantage to Sky City
David Shearer | Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 15:07
John Key and his Government clearly gave Sky City an unfair advantage in its bid for the contract to build a convention centre in a move that will boost casino profits off the backs of problem gamblers, says Labour Leader David Shearer.
“New Zealanders don’t want more pokies in this country. They cause real harm and if this deal goes ahead with Sky City, we’ll see the casino make hundreds of millions of dollars at the expense of problem gamblers.
“Today’s report by the deputy Auditor-General shows the Prime Minister’s claim that he’s been ‘totally vindicated’ is an insult to the intelligence of New Zealanders.
“Kiwis know he was donkey deep in this entire process. The deal with Sky City was his idea. He knew exactly what was going on and was pulling the strings behind the scenes.
“The report has made stinging criticisms, including that Government officials worked ‘closely’ with Sky City to help it put together a bid and were conducting preliminary negotiations while palming off other bidders. It also found the meetings and discussion between the Government and Sky City were ‘materially different in quantity and kind’ from those with other parties.
“This is evidence that Sky City was given unfair advantage.
“The report also states that the steps taken during the Sky City negotiation process were not consistent with ‘good practice principles of transparency and fairness’ and that there were a range of deficiencies in the steps taken by officials and Ministers.
“This does not clear the Prime Minister despite his attempt to spin the story before the report’s release. He was personally involved in meetings with Sky City and actively encouraged it to make a bid.
“This whole episode undermines New Zealand’s reputation for honesty and transparency and that lies at the feet of John Key,” said David Shearer.