Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

No political element to SkyCity report, John Key

Mr Key who said he wasn't losing any sleep after seeing an early draft of the report. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Mr Key who said he wasn't losing any sleep after seeing an early draft of the report. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Prime Minister John Key is confident there is nothing in a report tomorrow on how his controversial pokies for convention centre arrangement with SkyCity was struck that will prevent the projected from going ahead.

Public watchdog the Auditor-General has confirmed it will today release the results of its long running investigation into how SkyCity's offer to build a $350 million national convention centre in return for a relaxation in gambling laws was selected over other bids.

It launched the investigation in response to a complaint from the Green Party which raised concerns about Mr Key's involvement in early talks with SkyCity.
But Mr Key who said he wasn't losing any sleep after seeing an early draft of the report, today said he'd seen a more recent version and was "losing even less sleep".
"In my view there's no political element to it."

He understood detailed talks between the casino company and officials had been on hold until the Auditor-General's report was released.
"The final details of the deal and whether that's acceptable to the Government is something we'd have to negotiate but in short, all things being equal, we'd like to get on with it as soon as we can.'

The next step would be to see whether SkyCity was still serious about continuing that process. SkyCity last week said it remained willing to proceed, "provided an acceptable return on capital can be delivered from the total project".

SkyCity is understood to be seeking law changes allowing 300 to 500 additional pokie machines and wider use of technology which would increase gambling revenue.
Meanwhile Mr Key also said the Supreme Court's advice last week that it would not produce its decision on the Maori Council's water rights case until near the end of the month would not cause problems for the Government's asset sales programme.

During the hearing Crown lawyers told the court a decision before February would allow the Government to meet its "preferred timetable" for the sale of Mighty River shares sometime between March and June.

But Mr Key said an extra couple of weeks delay, "pushes us up to the edge but it doesn't make the first float on the timetable we wanted impossible".

He said the Government could have pushed ahead by enacting legislation allowing the sale before the Supreme Court's decision but that would have been "a bit churlish'.

- NZ Herald

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