National caught hiding cost of SkyCity deal

Published: Wed 4 Sep 2013 12:44 PM
4 September 2013
National caught hiding cost of SkyCity deal
National has been caught, again, hiding the costs of the SkyCity deal from the public and MPs even as it pushes the deal’s legislation through Parliament, Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said today.
TVNZ has revealed today that ministers have permitted it to reduce its dividend payments to the Crown so that it can pay for costs of rehousing TVNZ staff from the building it has been forced to sell as part of the SkyCity deal. That will result in a reduced dividend income for the Crown, leaving a fiscal gap that taxpayers will have to finance.
“National has been caught once again hiding the costs of its dirty deal with SkyCity,” said Mrs Turei.
“National’s ministers were outplayed in the negotiations with SkyCity and have failed to deliver the ‘free’ convention centre that they promised. Now, the taxpayer has to foot the bill.
“The Government tried to downplay the social costs of increased gambling and failed to tell the public about the job losses the deal will cause. Now, we learn that National had to coax TVNZ to play its part in the dirty SkyCity deal by letting it off paying dividends. That will be a cost of millions of dollar to the Crown’s coffers.
“The way that National has held back and drip-fed damning information on the deal has prevented the public knowing the true cost of this dodgy deal.
“The National Government has kept MPs and the public in the dark about this even as the legislation to seal the SkyCity deal proceeds through the House. Were National MPs like Sam Lotu-Iiga told that the SkyCity deal was going to cost taxpayers millions? Was John Banks informed?
“TVNZ never wanted anything to do with the SkyCity deal. It was forced to sell its land by a National Government hell-bent on cutting a deal to increase gambling.
“There’s a deep irony that National has been pushing TVNZ into a more commercial model and forcing job cuts so that it can pay higher dividends only for National to turn around and let it cut those dividends to subsidise the SkyCity deal.
“Duplicity has been the hallmark of National’s ‘bargain’ SkyCity from the start. It’s now time to ditch this dirty deal,” said Mrs Turei.

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