PM gambles on popularity in SkyCity row

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 11:16 22/04/2012
JOHN KEY
FAIRFAX
JOHN KEY: Sky City was the best offer because all other parties wanted the Government to pay for the centre.

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OPINION: The Key Government keeps forging ahead with unpopular policies, determined to get things done.

In his impressive valedictory speech last year Simon Power said politicians were there to get on with things, not clockwatch. Notwithstanding the will of the people, governments had to make decisions based on their convictions.

This Government seems to have been inspired by that. Partial asset sales and getting close with China stand out. But the SkyCity deal for the national convention centre is the crowning case.

Every political instinct suggests the deal is a bad idea, and John Key has declared himself "the first person to acknowledge" that pokie machines cause harm.

So giving SkyCity a law change to have more of them, in return for funding a national convention centre, makes it easy for opposition MPs to charge that law changes are for sale.

The first significant public polling on the deal suggested voters were firmly against it. But Key and his allies believe the economic arguments will win out. And when they do, that'll take care of the politics.

The evidence for that theory looks good. Overall polling since the election has National support still around 50 per cent.

The Government will be judged by results, says Key. So perhaps he shouldn't be so dismissive of questions over the SkyCity deal.

Popularity, Key's lot should remember, does not automatically beget righteous decision-making.

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- Sunday Star Times

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