KEVIN HAGUE (Green) to the
Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement on
yesterday that “we’re constantly changing aquaculture laws, or fishing laws, or whatever it might be. I mean in the case of Sky City, that particular licence is site specific”?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Transport) on behalf of the
Prime Minister: Yes, Parliament regularly changes legislation, and, yes, the particular licence is site specific.
Kevin Hague: Where does the Prime Minister draw the line on altering legislation to suit business interests at the expense of wider society?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I think the Prime Minister would reject the second part of that question completely. This is a very big opportunity for New Zealand. The New Zealand International Convention Centre will be a major boost to the New Zealand economy, attracting 33,000 convention delegates and pumping an additional $90 million of international visitor spending into the economy each year. Once completed, it
will employ around 800 people, and it will employ around a thousand people during construction. Those are very good things for New Zealand.
Kevin Hague: Given that it appears there is no line—
Mr SPEAKER: The member should not make that sort of statement.
Kevin Hague: That did appear to be the answer.
Mr SPEAKER: The member should just ask the question.
Kevin Hague: Have the Prime Minister, his Ministers, or their advisers discussed changes to the regulatory framework for gambling with any other gambling providers?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I am not aware of any discussions. What I can say in relation to this matter is that negotiations are ongoing, and the Government has ruled some things out. It has ruled out providing additional casino licences to Skycity, allowing Skycity to have an internet gambling licence, reducing the age of entry to casinos, or allowing gambling in the new convention centre. All those things have been ruled out. The Government is considering allowing Skycity to increase the number of gaming tables and machines at its Auckland casino.
Kevin Hague: Has the Government not effectively agreed to all Skycity’s demands by accepting its tender for the convention centre, which the company has made very clear is contingent on all of its demands being met?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No. The negotiations continue, and I draw the member’s attention to two press releases released in the weekend. One is from the Prime Minister, headed “Convention centre development moves ahead”, and the other is from the Hon David Carter, entitled “Discussions underway on International Convention Centre”.
Kevin Hague: What will the Gambling Commission’s role be in governance negotiations with Skycity over its demands for changes to the regulatory framework for gambling?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Discussions in relation to the convention centre are continuing. If there were to be any changes in regard to legislation—for example, in relation to the commission the member mentioned—they would be brought before Parliament for Parliament to decide on.
Kevin Hague: What economic study has there been or will there be into the downstream negative effects on society of the increase in the opportunity to gamble that Skycity is demanding?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: There are a number of studies on gambling harm. Of course, the Government is very concerned to ensure that gambling harm is minimised. We have a problem gambling levy in place that raises around $20 million a year to fund services such as front-line counselling, including dedicated services for particular communities, including the Asian community and Māori and Pasifika. The Government will keep a careful eye on Skycity, as it always does, to ensure Skycity upholds its part of any bargain in terms of continuing harm minimisation work. But the Government is certainly keener on controlled, regulated gambling rather than gambling occurring all over our communities.
Sue Kedgley: How many meetings has the Prime Minister or his Ministers, such as Minister Joyce, had with Skycity representatives or their lobbyist Mark Unsworth to discuss the proposed law changes to the Gambling Act?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I cannot answer that question, except with regard to the Minister of Transport. I can confirm he has had no meetings with Skycity.
Sue Kedgley: I seek leave to table my Lobbying Disclosure Bill, which would require lobbyists to disclose how many meetings they have with Ministers or MPs to discuss changes they are seeking to legislation.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Chris Hipkins: How can his Government justify changing tax, labour, and gambling laws to benefit the film and gambling industries, when it will not lift a finger to save jobs at a railway workshop, it will not lift a finger to save TVNZ jobs at Avalon, and it will not lift a finger to save jobs at Industrial Research Ltd in Lower Hutt, or is it only the large corporates, whose profits largely go offshore, that this Government is interested in helping?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, that is not the case. The Government is involved in encouraging all sorts of new economic development, and that is what it is seeking to do. But, as the Prime Minister said in answer to a previous question, it is not the role of the Government to fix the workforces of companies around the country. It is the job of companies to determine the appropriate mix of their workforces at the time. I point out to the member that a previous Government was involved in making law changes to create one of New Zealand’s biggest corporates, a company called Fonterra, so there are definitely some precedents to this case.