The Green Party is calling for an immediate hold on all negotiations over the Skycity convention centre deal as the Auditor General investigates the process which led to the casino being chosen to build the centre.
Deputy Auditor General Phillippa Smith has agreed to a request by Green Party Co leader Metiria Turei to carry out an inquiry into the Expressions of Interest Process for proposals to establish an international convention centre.
"The Government cannot possibly proceed with the SkyCity deal, while the inquiry goes ahead, as its terms of reference cut to the heart of the decision to award the contract to Skycity in the first place," Mrs Turei said.
"I raised concerns about the fairness and adequacy of the process, especially given Skycity was offered a law change that gave it more pokies in exchange for building the centre, and the deal didn't appear to consider the huge social and financial costs of increased gambling."
The inquiry will examine:
"A deal that gives a casino more pokies and other opportunities to profit from problem gamblers is immoral. It is appropriate that the Government's wheelings and dealings are being looked into," Mrs Turei said.
"The Green Party is not anti-convention centres. There were options on the table from other groups who wanted to build a centre which didn't involve trading in the wellbeing of vulnerable people to build it.
"We don't think the process has been fair to those other groups, to Aucklanders who don't want more gambling in their city, and to the families of problem gamblers who are likely to suffer from any increase in gambling.
"But the Prime Minister and Economic Development Minister Stephen Joyce chose to back the Skycity proposal from the outset, blithely offering SkyCity a law change that would see a massive increase in its gambling business.
"The Prime Minister has failed to acknowledge that law change subverts a fundamental intention of the Gambling Act, which is to prevent absolutely any more gambling opportunities in New Zealand casinos in recognition of the harm gambling causes.
"This deal raises serious issues of Ministerial influence and fairness and we look forward to the outcome of the Auditor General's inquiry," Mrs Turei said.
Link to AG inquiry terms of reference: http://www.greens.org.nz/sites/default/files/ag_skycity.pdf