SkyCity Govt deal report due

18:22, Feb 18 2013

A report today will clear the way for SkyCity's $350 million international convention centre in Auckland, but is expected to question some of the steps that led to the Government negotiating exclusively with the casino operator.

It is understood the report by Deputy Auditor-General Phillippa Smith finds fault with the to-and- fro between the Government and SkyCity and suggests it should have stopped at the point the casino operator was identified as the likely or only operator that could develop the centre.

But Prime Minister John Key yesterday made it clear he thinks he is off the hook.

Last year, after seeing a draft report, he said he was not losing any sleep over it. Yesterday, after seeing more recent drafts, he was "losing even less sleep".

Last April, Green Party co- leader Metiria Turei sought the investigation into the deal, which would extend SkyCity's gaming licence and let it install more pokie machines. In return it would build the convention centre, near the Sky Tower, with no cash contribution from the taxpayer.

In 2010, the Government called for expressions of interest in building the centre and in June 2011 said it was in exclusive negotiations with SkyCity.

Last week, SkyCity said it was still willing to invest up to $350m to develop, own and operate the convention centre, "provided an acceptable return on capital can be delivered from the total project". Fairfax NZ


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