Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Cunliffe: Key telling porkies on pokies deal

Labour Leader David Cunliffe says claims by Prime Minister John Key that Labour has promised SkyCity it will not revoke the international convention centre deal are an example of Mr Key "making it up again".

Legislation allowing for the casino company to build a $400 million convention centre in return for hundreds of additional gambling machines and other regulatory concessions was reported back to Parliament by the commerce committee yesterday.

While the Government-dominated committee recommended the bill be passed, it was opposed by Labour and the Greens in their minority views.

The Labour Party minority view also included advice from officials confirming that the bill, including provisions that would see SkyCity compensated if any of the regulatory concessions under the deal were removed, could be amended in future.

The report states that Labour MPs "reserve the right to change the law when in government".

Mr Key this morning said it was a convention that no Parliament could bind a future Parliament, "and that's true of any laws or anything that takes place here so, so be it".

That was something SkyCity was well aware of .

"Legislatively they can change any law they want but there's also contract law in New Zealand and future Governments would probably be mindful of cutting across contract law because that has implications for other things that take place, but in the end they're the commercial risks any operator takes.

"They won't go there. Labour's already telling SkyCity they won't. I know people who have told me", Mr Key told reporters this morning.

"They won't get rid of the deal, that's what I've heard around the traps in Auckland."

But while Mr Cunliffe said a Labour Government "won't be incinerating the SkyCity contract," it would be preserving "the sovereign right of every Parliament to make sovereign legislation as required".

Mr Cunliffe would not confirm that Labour would change the legislation, "but I would reserve the right for a future Parliament to address issues of gambling harm".

Mr Cunliffe had not had any discussions about the issue with the casino company, "and we've made no commitments whatsoever to SkyCity despite what the Prime Minister might say.

"I believe he's making it up again."

- NZ Herald

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