Key 'back pedalling' on Sky City

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 08:13 15/06/2012
JOHN KEY
FAIRFAX
SKYCITY: John Key welcomed an inquiry into the convention centre deal.

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Prime Minister John Key has been accused of back-pedalling on a national convention centre deal with SkyCity while an official investigation is carried out.

The office of the auditor- general has announced an investigation into the deal, which would see SkyCity build a $350 million national convention centre in return for more pokie machines and gaming tables, and an extension to its licence.

Mr Key initially said it was "always possible" a deal with SkyCity could be signed while an investigation continued. That response sparked suggestions that the Government was being arrogant and disrespectful of the auditor-general.

Yesterday Mr Key said that the Government was "likely to be cautious" about a deal while a probe was under way. "It doesn't mean we can't sign it but we're likely to be cautious just out of respect."

In July last year, shortly after negotiations started, Mr Key said he expected a deal to be agreed within two months.

Yesterday, he said: "No-one has told me that there is a deal on the table any time soon, but let's wait and see and we'll get through the auditor-general's report."

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said Mr Key and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce had shown "contempt for the auditor-general".

"Now Mr Key is back- pedalling," Ms Turei said.

"The Government can't possibly proceed with the deal while the inquiry is running . . ."

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