The SkyCity convention centre deal has always been highly divisive, and the project is attracting even more controversy. This week, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced that the project may need additional assistance in order to thrive – and, this may require the help of taxpayers’ dollars. In 2013, SkyCity struck a deal with John Key and the federal government to build a $402 million convention centre in Auckland.
Unfortunately, it was later revealed that there was a $70 million to $130 million shortfall in funding. This would require taxpayers to step in and make up the difference. While taxpayers across the country are outraged at the suggestion, John Key seems to have sided with the casino operator. According to a report in Stuff.co.nz, he has stated that the venue would be an ‘eyesore’ without the assistance of taxpayer dollars.
It seems that there has been an escalation in building costs since the original plan was finalised. However, it should not be up to taxpayers to make up for the shortfall – especially since John Key promised that the convention centre would be built without any help from taxpayers. "The promise that he made - he and his Government - was we would get a convention centre for free," says Andrew Little, leader of the Labour Party.
"Now it looks like taxpayers are going to be asked to pony up $140m. They've broken the promise." The SkyCity convention centre deal has always been a contentious issue, as community members did not support the terms of the deal and were concerned about the transparency.
The local community was left out of the negotiation process, and many community members opposed the gambling concessions that were provided to the casino operator. Now, the deal is attracting even more controversy. The Taxpayers’ Union has introduced a petition with a goal of 2000 signatures. To sign your name and support the cause, visit: http://www.taxpayers.org.nz/skycity.