Monday, August 19, 2013

My Submisson On SKY City Convention Bill

To the select committee,

I wish to make a submission on the New Zealand International Convention
Centre Bill.


The purpose of this bill is to expand the gambling license for Skycity, a
private Australian company operating in New Zealand. It seems that aside from
these extraordinary provisions, the bill does not have a reason to exist.
With this submission I join with a wide selection of groups urging the
committee to reject the provisions of the bill, which sells our  current
gambling laws for the project management of the International Convention
Centre.

Some reasons I oppose this bill:

* 200 more problem-gamblers - Bad for people

If this bill is enacted, it is estimated that 10 000 people will need to deal
with the adverse effects of problem-gambling. Regardless of any attempts
Skycity may make to mitigate this, gambling addictions lead to family and
relationship breakdowns, theft, domestic incidents and crime. Each of these
“adverse effects” can be life destroying.  The passing of this Bill has
the potential to be devastating to thousands of people.

* Minimal community returns - Bad for communities

There is a perception that gambling profits will return to benefit community
organisations, but the proportion given by Skycity in this way is alarmingly
small. Skycity returned only 2% of its gambling take, compared with more than
37% from other gambling operators like pubs. Research by BDO Kendalls shows
that more than half of all money stolen from non-profit community
organisations has been to stolen by gambling addicts - $180,000 per person
per theft on average. These figures in tandem cast the whole deal in a
greedy, immoral and ungenerous light. This bill does not benefit community
organisations.

* Contrary to existing gambling laws - Bad for rule of law

The main reason this bill exists is to reduce Skycity's responsibility under
the 2003 Gambling Act. The Gambling Act's first stated purpose is to control
the growth of gambling - but the New Zealand International Convention Centre
Bill exists to expand Skycity's gambling license. It sets a bad legal
precedent to allow the largest private gambling operator in NZ to buy
gambling laws. This bill contradicts the purpose of our gambling law.

* Poor business case - Bad for the economy

The potential economic benefits of the Skycity Convention Centre have not
been subjected to a proper challenge. The draft design of the convention
centre suggests that it will not benefit local businesses. The 10-day average
length of stay estimate by the Government is not supported by convincing
evidence available to the public. The employment estimates bear no relation
to the employee figures in comparable convention centres overseas. The Sydney
Convention Centre (which also has a capacity of 3500 people) employs only 200
full-time equivalent staff compared with the Government's figure of 800
expected jobs in Auckland's centre. The economics don't stack up.


I request that all provisions that allow expansion of this private company's
gambling operations to be removed before this bill proceeds.

As an Auckland ratepayers we do have options . I believe that a convention
centre  will be  of real benefit   However we could continue to. use the
Aotea centre and develop the St James theatre

.Under the Sky City proposal these council owned venues will ultimately lose
business to Sky City  and as rate payers we will have to pick up the cost.
This would be in the community and civic interest .The Sky City proposal is
not.



Thank you for hearing my submission.



Gerard Hill
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