Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Conscience vote on legislation enabling SkyCity deal

Legislation allowing the Government's pokies for convention centre deal with casino company SkyCity will be put to a conscience vote, Parliament's Speaker David Carter has confirmed.

In theory, Mr Carter's decision means National Party MPs could vote against the legislation if they wished but given the importance the party has given to the project and the controversy surrounding it, they and other parties are almost certain to vote along party lines.

Nevertheless, Mr Carter's decision is a small victory for Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei who wrote to him yesterday requesting a conscience vote.

Today she urged National MPs to vote against the bill when it gets its first reading, saying it was "not too late for MPs to use their personal vote tomorrow to protect Aucklanders, children and families against the dangers in this Bill''.

The NZ International Convention Centre Bill gives SkyCity necessary exemptions from the Gambling Act to allow it 230 extra pokie machines and other concessions in return for the company building and operating a $402 million convention centre at its downtown Auckland site.

The Greens and Labour have criticised the way the deal was negotiated and say the extra gambling opportunities will fuel problem gambling.

The legislation is set down for its first reading tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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