4 Sep 2013

Govt denies it induced TVNZ to make way for SkyCity deal

9:55 pm on 4 September 2013

The Government denies it's allowed Television New Zealand to pay a smaller dividend in exchange for selling land to Sky City to make way for its planned $402 million International Convention Centre.

TVNZ announced on Wednesday it will refurbish its central Auckland office, after selling two properties at 85 and 91 Hobson Street to Sky City for $10.6 million.

The Government's also allowed it to cut its dividend to help pay for that make over.

The Green Party says that's yet another cost to the taxpayer to get the centre built.

But Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, denies that, saying the centre could have gone ahead with or without the extra piece of land.

Mr Joyce says the Government is supporting the broadcaster's renovations and describes it as a win-win.

Sky City says owning the TVNZ properties will enhance the design and operational flexibility of the convention centre.

Full social impact of deal hidden, say Greens

Meanwhile, in the House on Wednesday the Green Party accused the minister of hiding the full impact of the SkyCity convention centre deal from Government MPs.

The bill allowing the deal to go ahead passed its first reading last month and is currently before a select committee.

Greens' co-leader Metiria Turei asked Mr Joyce why his Cabinet colleagues were not given crucial evidence from the Health Ministry.

She told MPs that ministry officials had serious doubts about whether harm minimisation measures would work.

Mr Joyce said the report was compiled by officials, not him. He told the House he does not read every piece of advice from every department but denied that MPs' votes on the bill were based on incomplete advice.