Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

SkyCity deal 'selling' exemption from law

The Greens asked constitutional lawyer Stephen Franks for a legal opinion of the SkyCity deal. Photo / Supplied
The Greens asked constitutional lawyer Stephen Franks for a legal opinion of the SkyCity deal. Photo / Supplied

Leading constitutional lawyer Stephen Franks has panned the Government's convention centre deal with SkyCity, saying it dodges important safeguards.

Mr Franks' law firm, Franks & Ogilvie, was asked by the Green Party to advise on the constitutional implications of the deal under which SkyCity will build a $402 million convention centre in Auckland city in return for Gambling Act changes that will boost its profits.

Mr Franks' analysis, released yesterday, found the "heads of agreement" signed last month "exhibits an approach to procurement that skirts important constitutional safeguards".

The Government was in effect selling dispensations from the Gambling Act to SkyCity which were not available to others in return for the convention centre. "The ability to 'purchase' a dispensation from regulation sits uncomfortably with the rule of law," Mr Franks said.

He also said the agreement was unlikely to bind future governments.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman said Mr Franks was saying "the deal to give special dispensation from the law ...

in return for a payment essentially undermines the basic idea of our constitutional rule of law. When an individual company can pay money to get away from the law we've got a problem with our democracy".

- NZ Herald

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