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Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

PM grilled on SkyCity connections

Prime Minister John Key at the National election night party at Sky City. Photo / Janna Dixon
Prime Minister John Key at the National election night party at Sky City. Photo / Janna Dixon

The National Party has confirmed that it paid in full when it used the SkyCity Convention Centre on its election night and on other occasions.

Prime Minister John Key, in Singapore for trade talks, has been quizzed on whether there has been any sweetheart deals between SkyCity and the National Party.

Asked whether his party paid for its use of the convention centre for its election night party in November, Mr Key said it was not his job to do party administration.

But the National Party's general manager Greg Hamilton confirmed the party had paid to use Sky City on every occasion at commercial rates.

The Prime Minister has come under fire from the opposition after confirming that he personally invited the company to make a pitch for a new convention centre.

The Government is in discussions with SkyCity on a deal which could see the company fund a $350 million convention centre in Auckland in return for an extension to its casino licence.

Mr Key said this afternoon that there was no conflict of interest.

"We have been completely upfront. We went through a process, we said we wanted to have a conference centre built. I made it quite clear well over a year or so ago that I spoke to a number of parties including SkyCity."

Mr Key confirmed yesterday that encouraged SkyCity to make a pitch for the convention centre in 2010 in his capacity as Minister of Tourism.

He did not feel that there was strong public opposition towards the deal.

The National Party received a $60,000 donation from SkyCity in 2005.

Party donation returns show coalition partners the Act Party and United Future also received $12,000 from the company in the same year.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters pointed out that Act leader John Banks received financial backing of $15,000 from SkyCity during his 2010 mayoralty bid.

"These three parties which received donations from SkyCity are the same ones that can ensure the Key-deal gets a majority in Parliament," he said.

The Labour Party has also benefited from SkyCity's donations, receiving $60,000 in 2005. Progressives were given $12,000.

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