David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Brown: Give us the convention centre we want

Mayor says SkyCity must listen to Aucklanders' views before it settles on $402m building's design.

One idea ... an artist's impression of the proposed SkyCity convention centre. Photo / Supplied
One idea ... an artist's impression of the proposed SkyCity convention centre. Photo / Supplied

Mayor Len Brown has called for public input into the new SkyCity convention centre, saying the "aspirations" of the community should be reflected in the final building.

The deadline for signing the deal is two weeks away. The signing will trigger the beginning of the public consultation phase promised by Prime Minister John Key after the proposal was announced.

The resource consent process is one way the public can give their views on the deal.

The other is through a government select committee which will oversee debate on the new law the Government intends passing to make the deal happen.

SkyCity and the Government are in the final stages of negotiating a deal which must be complete by June 14. The date was set in the "heads of agreement" released this month which gave details of the extra gaming machines and extended monopoly SkyCity will get in return for building the international convention centre.

Completion of the deal will allow the public to have a say on an issue which appears to face strong public opposition. A poll on the deal commissioned by the Problem Gambling Foundation shows only 20 per cent support from those asked if they support a deal increasing poker machine numbers in return for the convention centre. Sixty-seven per cent of people asked were opposed to it.

Mr Brown said council staff would follow the consent process once SkyCity applied for resource consent.

"I have no idea what SkyCity will propose, but I hope they will want to seek input from Aucklanders. This is an opportunity to deliver a truly iconic building for Auckland. The result will clearly be better if it reflects the aspirations and views of the community."

A spokesman in minister Steven Joyce's office said "a new bill will be required to give effect to the final agreement which provides for the regulatory concessions". Progress from there would depend on the final contract signed with SkyCity. "The usual select committee process will apply to any new legislation."

Councillor Richard Northey said hearings would be unlikely to deal with issues of social harm. He said the resource consent process had been refined by the government to deal with physical issues directly related to construction.

"People may well raise these issues but I don't think a hearings panel - if there is a hearings panel - could consider it."

The issue is politically heated and might become more so if the resource consent application is lodged before this year's local body elections.

SkyCity spokesman Gordon Jon Thompson said the company was "committed to playing our part" in the public consultation over the proposed centre.


The deal

We allow
• 230 extra pokie machines
• 240 seats at automated gaming tables
• 40 extra gaming tables
• Cashless gaming using pre-paid tickets
• Casino licence extended to 2048

SkyCity provides:
• $402 million for a convention centre
• A predictive tool for identifying problem gamblers
• Voluntary system restricting play time
• Requirement for player ID for cashless gaming over $500

- NZ Herald

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