Questions raised over casino operator's part in Government decision to back project

SkyCity wants underground access from its Auckland casino to the City Rail Link, raising questions about whether it helped to garner Government backing for the project.

Strong support from Auckland's business community is believed to have been key to persuading the Government of the merits of the $2.86 billion project it opposed until this week, when it offered to put up half the cost from 2020.

One senior council source has suggested the casino and entertainment company would undoubtedly have contributed its renowned lobbying weight to the cause.

Asked yesterday whether it helped to get Auckland Mayor Len Brown's project over the line at the Beehive, SkyCity spokesman Gordon Jon Thompson said: "I have no idea about that - I'm sure they made their decision with their own mind because they know what's good for Auckland."


"It's all part of being an international city," he said of the 3.4km twin rail tunnels project, which will pass under the length of Albert St, within metres of the casino's existing convention centre.

A spokesman for Prime Minister John Key's office said there had been no discussion with SkyCity about a railway station at the proposed new international convention centre, which the company intends building across Hobson St from its casino.

But in a submission to Auckland Council on a route designation for the tunnels the company has asked for "additional underground connections" to be provided to the proposed Aotea Station, the largest of three to be dug between Britomart and Mt Eden.

Although Aotea Station is to stretch beneath the entire city block between Victoria St and Wellesley St, none of three entrances so far proposed by Auckland Transport points directly at Sky City. The closest entrance will be just to the east of Federal St.