Prime Minister John Key appears to have ruled out
Queenstown's proposed convention centre involving a deal with
casino giant SkyCity.
The Government negotiated a controversial deal with SkyCity
Entertainment Group to fund the $400 million Auckland
national convention centre in return for concessions
including more poker machines, gaming tables and a licence
However, when asked yesterday if he had any appetite to get
involved in a deal with SkyCity for Queenstown, Mr Key
replied: ''I don't think so, no.''
The Queenstown Lakes District Council, leading progress on a
proposed $50 million Queenstown centre, named SkyCity as its
preferred operator a year ago.
If SkyCity was involved - and wanted a casino operation as
part of the centre precinct - it would require the Government
to change the law and enable SkyCity to transfer one or both
of its downtown Queenstown casino licences.
Mr Key said the council - which has asked the Government for
a $20 million centre contribution - was obviously keen to
develop a centre and the Government had ''tacitly given an
indication it's prepared to put in cash''.
''The issue is, is it enough? The answer is 'no' on current
funding proposals but nor are we necessarily looking to put
in a lot more.''
Asked if in discussions council chief executive Adam Feeley
had intimated the council was stuck and needed help, Mr Key
replied: ''I think they haven't actually finalised every bit
of that but council by end of March or middle next month will
be in a better position to talk about what the shortfall
looks like and what are the options available for them to
fill that hole.''
Earlier, Mr Key told a Queenstown Chamber of Commerce
luncheon that people wanted to come to the Wakatipu for
conferences but it did not have the capacity needed.
''Just as in Auckland where we found a way through that,
we're going to have to do that in Queenstown. It's not
straightforward and not easy, and I'm not going to say we
have a solution today but we have to find a way to allow your
council to get a convention centre up and running.''
Mr Feeley has previously described SkyCity involvement as a
''silver bullet'' in terms of negating financial risk for
ratepayers, but a recent council agenda item also noted
SkyCity's interest or commitment to be involved as
A survey of residents last year revealed 43% were opposed or
strongly opposed to a casino operation at the centre site.
Council-commissioned analysis of convention centre benefits
estimates a centre would create 466 jobs and generate between
$22 million and $36 million in gross domestic product
- Ryan Keen.