Len Brown is offering "conditional support" to the Sky City convention centre deal; the Herald reports:
Auckland mayor Len Brown is conditionally supporting a controversial government decision to negotiate a convention centre deal with SkyCity.The Government has faced mounting criticism over discussions with the casino that would see the company fund a $350 million convention centre in Auckland in return for an extension to its casino licence.Mr Brown, speaking to Radio New Zealand this morning after returning from a trade mission to China, said there was a huge need for a convention centre in Auckland, but if the deal goes ahead controls should be put in place to minimise harm to gamblers."I'm not anti gambling at all. I think there is a place and time for it and people are entitled to make their choices and they do that.''"What I would be looking at and what I looked at previously is harm minimisation, so if there is an extension as a part of any deal I would be very very concerned to ensure that we did everything we could to minimise harm from the extension of gambling outlets,'' he said.
Len Brown's pragmatism on this issue contrasts markedly with the hyperbolic opposition of the parties of the Left. But it is unlikely to win Len Brown any friends.
Mr Brown has already alienated the Left by refusing to back the Maritime Union in its ongoing dispute with Ports of Auckland Limited. That saw him labelled a scab and a class traitor. The unions played a significant role in getting Len Brown elected, but he is now a pariah of the Left.
But Len Brown is right; New Zealand and Auckland needs an international quality convention centre, but neither Auckland nor New Zealand has the readies to pay for it at this point in the economic cycle. The deal that the government is in the process of negotiating with Sky City (Tapu Misa and Matt McCarten take note; there ISN'T a deal yet, and your insistence that there is won't change that inconvenient fact) will see the convention centre built with no public money spent.
POSTSCRIPT: And in the time in which we have been typing these words, it's begun already; Sue Bradford tweets:
Len Brown finally speaks out on SkyCity deal, only to reveal his shameful pussyfooting support. No surprise, but a pity