23 Apr 2012

Convention centre sellout denied

3:14 pm on 23 April 2012

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce denies the Government is selling the law by doing a deal with Skycity casino in exchange for an Auckland convention centre.

The Government is under growing pressure over the deal which would see Skycity build the convention centre, in exchange for a law change so it can run more pokie machines.

Labour and the Greens want the project re-tendered, which Prime Minister John Key has ruled out.

Mr Joyce told the Q + A programme on Television New Zealand that gaming is tightly controlled so any changes require fresh legislation.

He said such deals are done all the time as happened under Labour when the law was changed to provide incentives for the film industry.

He said to suggest anything more is just Labour Party spin.

Mr Joyce said a key factor in Skycity's favour is its central location - at least one bid was a good one, but it was located in Remuera which was too far out of town.

Mr Joyce said no deal has been finalised with Skycity.

The final number of extra gaming machines was unknown and the subject of negotiations.

He said talks between the casino and the Ministry of Economic Development are underway, and once a deal is struck it will go before the Cabinet.

Mr Joyce said there is no deadline for striking a deal, or even on whether a deal will get the go-ahead.