More evidence that taxpayers are being ripped off by a Government playing fast and loose with their cash has been provided by Television New Zealand, the SOE caught up in the dodgy SkyCity deal, Labour Economic Development Spokesperson David Clark says.
“Questioned at the commerce select committee today TVNZ Chair Wayne Walden admitted he had conversations with Minister Craig Foss about the sale of TVNZ land to SkyCity.
“This was land designated for use as part of the proposed convention centre to be built on the adjoining site. Shortly after the long-sought land transfer, SkyCity announced its intention instead to build a five star hotel on the land.
“TVNZ Chief Executive Kevin Kendrick told the committee that a commercial valuation for the land had been sought, but appeared to concede that alternative uses such as the planned hotel had not been explicitly considered in the valuation.
“If the land was worth more as a site for a premium hotel, it is likely it would have attracted other commercial bidders, and the likelihood of a return to the taxpayer.
“Unfortunately, the taxpayer is unlikely ever to know how much of TVNZ’s foregone returns to taxpayers could have been offset by a proper market-driven sale process.
“The Board Chair’s satisfaction that they had extracted a sharp price from SkyCity’s deep taxpayer-assisted pockets seems odd in their current financial position. TVNZ chose not to put the property up for commercial sale. It looks like they handed it to SkyCity at the first price they were offered rather than seeking the best deal for taxpayers.
“This is either a story of poor commercial decision-making by New Zealand’s state-owned broadcaster, or the result of pressure applied by a hapless minister doing SkyCity’s bidding.
“Either way, once again, the taxpayer is left worse off,” David Clark said.