[Sitting date: 08 May 2012. Volume:679;Page:1993. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
DENIS O’ROURKE (NZ First) to the
Prime Minister: Did he involve Auckland City Council in discussions he or his staff had with SkyCity about a national convention centre in Auckland during 2009 and 2010?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister)
Denis O’Rourke: Has he read a press release dated 14 May 2010 from Auckland City Council that says: “The council … will work with the Government to establish a
preferred site.”, and further states that a new convention centre would “compliment existing Auckland venues including Sky City …”?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not recall that press release, but, of course, in the case of Auckland City Council, it was part of the feasibility study that was undertaken by the Government. That was undertaken in the middle part of 2009. I met with Skycity in November of 2009 and had some preliminary discussions with it. Prior to that, I had also met with a number of other parties. What discussions the Auckland City Council might have had with Skycity is of its own volition, but I was not involved in those.
Denis O’Rourke: Did he or any of his representatives ask or encourage the then Auckland City Mayor, John Banks, to support the proposed pokies deal with Skycity, given that Mr Banks originally wanted a convention centre on the waterfront?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, and you are correct about the latter point that the then Mayor of Auckland City, John Banks, wanted the convention centre to be down at the waterfront. My view of it—
Hon Trevor Mallard: That’s right, because he was anti-gambling then; it was before he got the cheque.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, it is a shame he did not build the stadium down there, but that was another failure of your Government. But like every other proposal other than Skycity’s, Mr Banks’ also required $350 million of taxpayers’ money.
Mr SPEAKER: Just before I call Denis O’Rourke, interjections today have been getting a bit unreasonable, and that kind of interjection the member made is totally unacceptable. The Hon Trevor Mallard will get to his feet and withdraw that interjection and apologise.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I withdraw and apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member.
Denis O’Rourke: Was Auckland City Mayor John Banks’ later agreement to go along with the pokies deal brokered by Mr Banks’ personal friend Wayne Eagleson, who later travelled to Las Vegas with Skycity lobbyist Mark Unsworth?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, and actually you are ahead of yourself, because—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Speaker is—
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: —Mr Banks has not actually given his support to the deal yet. He said he would look at it.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the last two questions that the Prime Minister has answered, he has started them with the words “you” and “your”. You know full well that that is not correct, and he has been around long enough to have learnt a few rudimentary lessons—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member was doing perfectly well up to that point. I do remind the Prime Minister that when he says “you should know something”, he is referring to the Speaker, and that is not a great look.
Denis O’Rourke: Did Mr Eagleson, who as Mr Banks’ friend helped him defend a contempt of court charge in 1987 and is now a conduit between Mr Banks and the Prime Minister’s office on matters relating to donations to Mr Banks’ mayoral campaign, have any involvement in brokering the Skycity deal?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.