I will say it now. The Sky City Casino demand for up to N.Z.$130 million to fund its revamp is not only morally wrong, it is also a gross misuse of taxpayer money. From a government that says it cannot find a mere $30,000 for the Rape Crisis Centre in Christchurch, saying that there is money to the tune of potentially tens of millions of dollars available for Sky City, is rich. It is also an insult to all the many causes that had and still HAVE a far greater need for it than a money grubbing casino ever will.
This is not new. For much of the Parliamentary term that ended in August 2014, the Opposition parties, namely New Zealand First, Labour and the Greens attempted to skewer the Government with claims about the unsuitability of the deal. Though they definitely had public sympathy, none of them could quite put a dent in it or the Government. They did however manage to force Prime Minister John into a fairly prolonged defence of the deal, including a pledge to not cost the taxpayer any money.
In 2013 it was announced that Sky City would build a $400+ million convention centre in return for being allowed to to have more pokies, gambling tables and concessions. Critics cried foul then – could this be the reason Problem Gambling Foundation was effectively defunded? Mayor of Auckland Len Brown said that his Council’s rate payer base would not be contributing any money toward the centre.
I totally fail to see how the majority of New Zealanders will benefit from each and every tax payer possibly stumping up $40 just so a few more high end conventions can be had in Auckland. I totally fail to see how the majority of New Zealanders will benefit from a bigger casino with more opportunities to play Russian roulette with six of the seven chambers loaded with your finances, potentially your health and your family.
Kill it by legislation, by referendum, by simply not funding it – I do not care, just kill the project.
Now, if the government were to invest that in making sure every school aged kid had a bank account with a starter of a few hundred dollars, that would be a very constructive use of the money. There was a banking scheme for children when I was in primary school and to this day, I don’t know why it was stopped. The scheme was simple. The school would open an account for a kid and on a designated day of the week the student would go to class with $5 or $10 from their parents which the teacher would collect and the school would bank on their behalf.
Before that though, I think they need to bank roll a certain Rape Crisis Centre in Christchurch. Now. Before someone who has just been raped or otherwise sexually abused finds that the help they urgently need is not there.