A Government proposal that Auckland City pick up some of the bill for a potentially $130 million blowout in the cost of SkyCity's new convention centre is going down poorly with several councillors who have taken to facebook to slam the idea.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce yesterday floated the idea of a ratepayer funded subsidy for the operating costs of the convention centre once it is built.
The suggestion was made apparently as a way of offsetting the additional construction costs for the convention centre.
That was in spite of the fact SkyCity is already set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gambling law concessions in exchange for building and running the centre.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown yesterday knew nothing about Mr Joyce's idea or any potential compliance concessions for SkyCity from the council, and appeared reluctant to get involved.
Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer, usually a fiscal conservative, said it should be considered but other councillors disagreed.
"Minister Joyce should not be mistaken with the complete lack of appetite Auckland Council has for footing the bill for cost overruns on the new national convention centre," the North Shore Councillor Chris Darby said in a facebook post.
"Polite conversations might occur but there's little chance council will be putting ratepayer funds on the line," Cr Darby said in a comment which deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said she agreed with.
Also on facebook, Howick Councillor Dick Quax said: "Can't speak for my colleagues on council but I wouldn't be supporting that".
"Less corporate welfare would be the go - not more."
North Shore Councillor George Wood said he was "certain that a majority of Auckland Council councillors would not be supportive of ratepayers funds going into Sky City convention centre".
"It wouldn't get past first base."
Meanwhile, SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison yesterday confirmed his company would like some kind of taxpayer top up to partly cover any cost blowout and issued a veiled threat to walk away from the deal if the issue couldn't be resolved.
Labour Leader Andrew Little this morning said Prime Minister John Key should rule out any taxpayer funding.
"The Government should not be asking New Zealanders to stump up extra cash to bail out John Key and Steven Joyce's dodgy SkyCity convention centre deal.
"A deal is a deal is a deal. SkyCity offered to build the convention centre. If they can't come up with what they now say is a shortfall in costs that's their problem. Taxpayers should not be asked to dig into their pockets... John Key needs to rule out any public hand-out right now."