Convention centre slush fund revealed
A Cabinet paper released today shows the Prime Minister and his Economic Development Minister have continually misled New Zealanders about their shonky convention centre deal, says Labour’s Economic Development Spokesperson David Cunliffe.
“All along John Key and Steven Joyce have tried to rationalise selling the country’s law to a casino by claiming that SkyCity would meet all of the costs of the project.
“The Prime Minister’s official position has been that ‘the deal is unlikely to require taxpayer funds’.
“When asked on TVNZ’s Q&A programme whether the SkyCity deal was ‘considered to not cost New Zealanders’, Steven Joyce said ‘I think that’s right’.
“Now we know the National Government has in fact quietly behind the scenes created a $2.1 million slush fund of taxpayers’ money to be used for the design process and facilities for their preferred SkyCity deal.
“This fund was taken from some of the $120 million of cuts made to economic development and jobs programmes in this year’s Budget, including support for earthquake-devastated businesses in Christchurch, increasing exports to Asia, regional development programmes and assistance to start-up businesses.
David Cunliffe says he will forward the Cabinet paper to the Office of the Auditor-General today.
The Deputy Auditor-General has an on-going inquiry into the shady casino deal, he said.