Sky City talks continue

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 11:16 12/06/2012

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Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says there is nothing ominous about the Government not striking a deal with Sky City to build a $350 million national convention centre after a year of negotiations.

Prime Minister John Key announced the deal a year ago today which would see the Auckland casino build the 3500-seat centre in the central city in return for concessions to gambling laws which are expected to allow for hundred more pokie machines.

Joyce today said negotiations were going well.

"Good things take time".

Ministry of Economic Development officials were meeting regularly with Sky City and the minster himself had personally met with casino executives last December.

The fact that a deal hadn't been concluded after a year shouldn't be taken as a sign the convention centre wouldn't go ahead, he said.

"We're asking a company to invest around $350 million, so it's a pretty serious discussion. But negotiations are continuing and there are no deadlines."

Joyce said he had "no formal observation" on how much longer negotiations were likely to take.

Key has touted the deal as providing a $90 million boost to the economy and generating 1000 jobs during its construction and 800 jobs to run the centre.

However, those figures were last week challenged by the public release of a feasibility study done by hospitality and travel consultants Horwath which showed the centre could provide as little as 319 long-term jobs.

Labour leader David Shearer criticised the Government's "back of the envelope" calculations.

"This was a shonky deal from the start, and one which Kiwis overwhelmingly oppose."

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- Fairfax Media

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