Auckland convention centre and 500 new gaming machines, or Hillside?

State-owned Asset Sale

“A Berl report showed that having the new KiwiRail rolling stock for Auckland built at Hillside would have added $250m to the economy, reduced the current account deficit by $122m and created 1270 jobs. Unfortunately, National insisted that KiwiRail only consider its narrow commercial interests and ignore the wider impacts of its decision.” -Metiria Turei

### ODT Online Thu, 19 Apr 2012
KiwiRail putting Hillside up for sale
By John Lewis
KiwiRail is seeking expressions of interest for the sale of Dunedin’s Hillside Workshops. The business will be advertised for sale as a going concern from early May, 2012 with a final decision due by the end of August, 2012. KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn said the decision was made after analysing the financial impact of the reduction in construction and refurbishment forward work orders for Hillside Workshops.
Read more

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, Economics, Geography, Heritage, People, Politics, Project management, Property

52 responses to “Auckland convention centre and 500 new gaming machines, or Hillside?

  1. Anonymous

    Let’s not forget stories like these – because John Key will want you to:

    Stuff are too afraid to enable posts under its stories on this topic and ODT doesn’t appear to be running the APNZ articles which demonstrate how gambling affects the community. Can’t have society’s problems affecting its support of professional rugby.

    This agenda stinks as bad as Michael Guest’s involvement in the sinking lid policy on pokies here in Dunedin. Hundreds of submissions were received in favour of the sinking lid policy but were rejected in support of the council’s “status quo”.

    Always wondered – which key stakeholder had major interests in gambling? Which councillors were hell bent on a rugby stadium? Which sport depends on pokies? Which professional sport has had its hands smacked over pokies?

    Teflon John will be wanting to get his dodgy business done real quick because he’s surely rooted at the next election.

    • Elizabeth

      John Key and Bill English reported by media (via Twitter) as not knowing about Hillside going up for sale. Wonderment expressed that Joyce didn’t tell them…

    • Elizabeth

      There was the ex-councillor found to be using a washer in a gaming machine at a Normanby establishment, once. Although that doesn’t represent a major interest in gambling, more a desperate or drunken state.

    • “A good example of creativity and sound planning” –BusinessNZ

      ### ODT Online Tue, 14 May 2013
      Business benefits hailed; human ‘cost’ criticised
      By Dene Mackenzie
      Business interests have expressed their approval for the economic benefits the proposed $402 million international convention centre will bring to Auckland and New Zealand. But the Labour, Green and New Zealand First political parties all expressed their opposition and concern about what effects the extra gambling concessions provided by the deal would bring. The Government and SkyCity Entertainment signed an agreement to build the convention centre with SkyCity paying for the centre in exchange for concessions and an extension to its operations.
      BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly said New Zealand lacked large convention infrastructure and the SkyCity development would result in new business, growth and jobs that would not otherwise have occurred. ”The partnership model that the Government and private sector are working together on for this facility is a good example of creativity and sound planning.” NZPA
      Read more


      [meanwhile, today there are calls in Auckland City for the proposal to go to public consultation]

      ### ODT Online Tue, 14 May 2013
      Urgency likely on SkyCity
      By Dene Mackenzie
      The Government is likely to move into urgency to pass legislation allowing SkyCity Entertainment to build a $402 million convention centre in Auckland in exchange for concessions to its gambling operations.
      Construction of the New Zealand International Convention Centre would start in 2014 with the facility expected to be open in 2017.
      In a political twist, the agreement allows for SkyCity to be compensated if the Crown acts in a way to change the concessions listed in the agreement. Urgency will ensure the Government has enough votes to pass the legislation, by requiring its coalition partners to vote with the Government on the issue.
      Read more


      —The agreement— (via ODT)

      The Government
      • Extending SkyCity’s Auckland casino licence, due for renewal in 2021, to June 30, 2048.
      • Allowing an additional 230 poker machines.
      • Allowing 40 extra gaming tables.
      • Allowing a further 12 gaming tables, with SkyCity able to swap each table for an automatic table game that seats up to 20 players.
      • Allowing up to 17% of electronic gaming to accept banknotes greater than $20, but only in restricted areas.
      • Allowing ticket-based and card-based cashless gambling across the Auckland casino.

      • Introduction of a predictive modelling tool that analyses loyalty data to identify players at risk of problem gambling.
      • Introduction of a voluntary pre-commitment system where players using ”pokies” can elect to restrict the amount of time they play or the amount they spend over a selected period.
      • Doubling the number of host responsibility executives that SkyCity employs.
      • Introduction of player identification requirements when amounts above $500 are being put on to or cashed from ticket-in, ticket-out (tito) tickets in non-restricted areas.

      • ### ODT Online Thu, 16 May 2013
        Govt warned of SkyCity pokie social cost
        By Adam Bennett – NZ Herald
        The Department of Internal Affairs has warned the Government that extra pokie machines at SkyCity, resulting from its convention centre deal, risk increased harm to the community, Steven Joyce confirmed yesterday. Gambling opponents cite research suggesting the extra 230 pokie machines alone could cost society as much as $6.6 million a year. But with the Government touting a $90 million annual boost to the Auckland economy from the international convention centre, Cabinet “decided on balance that it was best to go with the deal”, Economic Development Minister Mr Joyce said. APNZ
        Read more

        • ### ODT Online Thu, 27 Jun 2013
          Support drops for SkyCity deal
          Public opinion has turned against the Government’s SkyCity international convention centre deal just days before it is due to be signed off, allowing for 230 extra poker machines at the downtown Auckland casino. The latest Herald-DigiPoll survey shows 61.5 per cent of those polled disapprove of the deal while 33.8 per cent approve. That’s a sharp turnaround from a year ago when a similar poll found 40.3 per cent disapproved and 57.3 supported it.
          SkyCity spokesman Gordon Jon Thompson refused to comment on the fact a majority of the 750 people surveyed opposed the deal. However, he said it “doesn’t make sense” to compare the June Herald-Digipoll survey with the one done last year.
          Read more

        • Cunliffe is making weird comments about Labour not backing the project if they win the general election, sounds like suicide to me.

          ### ODT Online Tue, 12 Nov 2013
          SkyCity bill passes
          Legislation to allow the building of a $402 million international-standard convention centre in Auckland passed its third and final reading in Parliament today.
          Read more


        • Rob Hamlin has his opinion published by ODT.

          ### ODT Online Sun, 17 Nov 2013
          Opinion – Your say
          There is another way
          By Rob Hamlin
          “Rather than playing games with semantics, the politically wise thing to do would be for Labour to express its unhappiness with the Sky City deal, but accept it is a fait accompli. That would be what the first Mr Cunliffe would do.”
          Read more

        • ### NZ Herald Online 2:51 PM Saturday Dec 7, 2013
          SkyCity crime syndicate unsurprising say Greens
          By Rebecca Quilliam
          Revelations that SkyCity casino is caught up in an alleged international crime syndicate is unsurprising considering the Government’s inaction over money laundering in casinos, the Green Party says. “Casinos are an engine of crime, so it’s not surprising that another [alleged] money laundering ring has been exposed at SkyCity Casino,” gambling spokeswoman Denise Roche said. More than 330kg of the class-B drug pseudoephedrine was seized in Operation Ghost, which police say is enough to produce $100 million worth of methamphetamine. Homes, luxury cars and cash worth up to $20 million were also seized in the record-breaking haul. Inquiries by the Weekend Herald can reveal that the 18-month investigation started in the VIP lounge of the casino and police are focusing their attention on the millions of dollars gambled there by several individuals. APNZ
          Read more

        • Elizabeth

          Our clean green economy…

          New Zealand is a popular target for money launderers because of its lax company registration rules and perceived trustworthiness.

          ### Last updated 17.55 11/09/2014
          NZ firm named in huge European scam
          By Richard Meadows
          New Zealand shell companies may have played a part in the biggest money-laundering operation in Eastern Europe. A recent investigation by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) exposed an enormous US$20 billion ($24.4 billion) transfer of dirty Russian funds, dubbed “the Laundromat”. The complex movement of cash, between 2010 and early this year, was allegedly facilitated by judges, well-connected officials, banks and offshore companies – including at least one New Zealand firm [a company named Chester (NZ) Ltd].
          Read more

  2. Anonymous

    ‘Mayor Dave Cull tried to put a positive spin on today’s announcement, calling it a potential positive for Dunedin. “Sometimes the ideal solution isn’t available so you have to take the best one. This one appears to be the best move forward in terms of the future of Hillside workshop.”‘

    Can the guy be any more of a softcock on Dunedin’s best interests?

    Hillside should rebrand itself as a stadium or Rugby Union and then the stakeholder puppet would make it work at any cost.

    • Elizabeth

      Anonymous – Cull’s next sentence is fully inspirational (doh):
      “Dunedin had a shortage of industrial land, and Hillside’s proximity to the Carisbrook rugby ground – also zoned industrial and also on the market – might be an opportunity.”

      This from the mayor of a council that has just consented City Property – by non-notified decision – a car sales yard (without landscaping strip) for the old Carisbrook car park at 24 Burns St. Such is the scarcity of industrial land in Dunedin.

      Damned, if Cull returns as mayor or councillor in the 2013 local body elections.

  3. Anonymous

    Reading today’s take in the Otago Daily Times makes it difficult to hold down your breakfast.

    This is an asset sell down and stripping exercise, played out countless times here and afar. The lightweight paper has accepted the ‘trust us it can work’ angle.

    You can’t blame the front line staff for needing to believe.

  4. Hype O'Thermia

    Who was it who coupled the words “softcock” and “Cull”?

  5. Rob Hamlin

    Dunedin does not have a shortage of industrial land. It does however have a shortage of industrial land that is not landbanked. It is extremely difficult to obtain industrial and commercial land with sufficent security of tenure and lease costs to justify the intallation of heavy fixed assets such as machinery. Landbanks have to be kept on short leases so that the ‘wonder opportunity’ for non productive arbitrage gain is not missed by its owners. Just exactly what form this wonder opportunity will take is not clearly articulated.

    Short leases means low investment by both owners and tenants in the structures on the land, which is one of the reasons why large areas of this city look a bit like Port au Prince.

    Regrettably freeing up new land by demolishing existing businesses and structures will not increase the supply of free industrial land unless liens are put on their titles to prevent immediate landbanking of the new stock. Difficult with Hillside – eminently possible with Carisbrook. Were such liens to be put in place on the Hillside land if the workshops were, regrettably, to cease trading this might actually justify Council involvement in the purchase of the site. I suspect given Cull’s recent record this would be impossible, as it would interfere with ‘market forces’ – as expressed to him by a certain colourful council colleague.

  6. Mike

    Rob that’s a great point and probably in part a legacy of our leasehold downtown. It seems to me that this is something the city could do something about; making zoning dependent on the conditions of leasehold, effectively making landbanked land worth much less.

  7. One of the other issues is people are too scared to develop a lot of those sites, because council keeps coming up with hairbrained ideas on how they want to develop these areas. Something about canals around the Fryatt street area was a wee ripper.

  8. Hype O'Thermia

    EH??? Do tell – when, who was the genius behind that one? Who had the gondolier franchise sewn up and just needed a ratepayer-funded venue?

  9. That was about 5-8 years ago Hype. Who would know what the latest is. But wasn’t council told if they didn’t have the right industrial services available the oil companies wouldn’t use Dunners as a gateway.

  10. Anonymous

    Even if oil was drilled for or found (God help us) off the coast here, the two councils and their stakeholders would screw up the opportunities in the pursuit of lining their own pockets. Oil wealth is short lived for a town that benefits from discovery and refinery. This has been demonstrated in other places where a community has gone from obscurity to “wealthy” during the ensuring years. Very few communities have had the forward looking leaders who invest that opportunity back into local research and development though so the community has a continuation of wealth after the oil has stopped flowing and companies moved on.

    For this to happen we need good people who work in the best interests of Dunedin City. The previous council didn’t and I certainly don’t trust this one any longer. Far too many Stadium Councillors still at the helm who would sign on any line if a stakeholder told them to. Those stakeholders are just a slimey bunch of asset strippers and would ignore any concern as long as the money fell into their own pockets. And you know which way the so-called independent media is going to lean on that matter.

    {Off topic. What if? generally allows wandering but there are times we’ll rein in threads to assist our archive record and dashboard search capability. -Eds}

    • Elizabeth

      “While I applaud the Dunedin City Council, the Otago Chamber of Commerce and the unions for putting a positive spin on it, you could see this coming for at least a year. KiwiRail and the Government have pissed on Dunedin.” -Clare Curran

      The unhelpful undignified response of the member of parliament for Dunedin South to the Hillside news.

      ### ODT Online Sat, 21 Apr 2012
      Editorial: Saving Hillside Workshops
      Hillside is to be sold. While it is heartening to observe the optimism at the news emanating from parties connected to, and associated with, the long-standing South Dunedin heavy engineering business, only time will tell whether there is any realistic basis for it; and whether, several months hence, the 123 or so remaining skilled staff will still have employment, and Dunedin a potentially key operation in its cluster of remaining engineering companies.
      Read more

  11. Anonymous

    Elizabeth, the following cartoon by Garrick Tremain reminded me of that ex-councillor found to be loading a washer into a gaming machine:

    It seems an old trick now with the Pokies Prime Minister and his cohorts gambling with other peoples’ money on that public scam called conference centres. Our lot at Dunedin City Council have already bet them to it. While they’ve been at it, the city’s financial future has been thrown to the wind and lifetimes of intergeneration debt created.

    The involvement of Stadium Councillors and their stakeholders – and recently some notably arrogant Ministers of National – have always felt like two-faced devils raiding coffers for their own wild visions.

    • Elizabeth

      Well spotted, Anonymous. As applies for Dunedin City Council (with friends ORFU/CSCT/DCHL/DVML et al), it would come as no surprise that moves to have the Auditor General look into the Sky deal will come to nought. Bureaucrats covering for bureaucrats and politicians, when everybody else has already skinned the rat.

  12. Hype O'Thermia

    What did we do before every urban agglomeration with more than 2 dogs and a pub had to have a convention centre? When did conventions start, and when did they need convention centres instead of Memorial Halls etc? Are “conventions” here to stay (and increase) or will they go the way of tulip auctions, and if so how soon, any guesses?
    Travel costs could put a damper on these jaunts. Depends what you believe about oil shortages and the likelihood of the development of equally convenient affordable means of travel I suppose.

  13. Anonymous

    ### Stuff Online Mon, 3 Dec 2012 Last updated 15:08 03/12/2012
    Hillside workers sent home
    By Wilma McCorkindale
    Workers at Dunedin’s Hillside Engineering Workshops have been sent home for the day.
    This morning they were told sale of the plant to Australian engineering giant Bradken was confirmed and the plant in its current form is to be decommissioned.
    New Zealand Rail and Maritime Union organiser John Kerr said 90 workers received the news they would lose their jobs at an 11 am meeting and that they were not required for the rest of today.
    Read more

    • ### ODT Online Wed, 7 Aug 2013
      4-day week as Kiwi Rail tender lost
      By Hamish McNeilly
      Sixty-four Dunedin manufacturing workers will have their working week reduced by a day following KiwiRail’s decision to award a manufacturing tender offshore. Bradken management confirmed yesterday all but four of its 68 staff would move to a four-day week, after it missed out with its tender to supply railway couplers – a mechanism used for connecting rolling stock. Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union organiser Mike Kirwood said the decision to award the tender, believed to be to an offshore company, was another blow to the Dunedin and New Zealand economy.
      Read more

  14. Anonymous

    Merry Christmas
    from National and KiwiRail’s Chief Executive Officer

  15. Anonymous

    Jobs cut.
    Social services cut.
    Chief executives get pay rises.
    Government ministers get pay rises and backdating to July.
    Gambling associations and professional rugby get theirs.
    Some Christmas spirit.

  16. Hype O'Thermia

    Pre-Christmas is the traditional time for moves of this nature. Everyone except those directly affected is too busy to spare more than a passing thought to it and then forgets instead of getting fully involved in justifiable anger.

    After Christmas is the traditional time to announce anything that public opinion, submissions, must be sought for. Again, people are involved in holidays, family, family feuds, visitors, barbecues, boating, alcohol and holiday sex. Submissions close about the time they get back to normal routine and catch up on what’s been in the media over the summer, other than pictures of young women at beach, bar, and lakeside.

  17. Anonymous

    Unbelievable for the ODT. It lets slip typo for top National Yes-Man…

    Mr Woodlouse, thanks for helping keep your city working – not.

    Seems fitting. Uproot a business in Dunedin and you see these critters scuttle for cover in the corners again.

  18. Anonymous

    More job losses coming to Dunedin, as publicly-informed in this brutish Stuff article:

    More than a 100 jobs could be cut at Contact Energy… Contact said job losses would be felt across all sectors of the business… It also operates call centres in Dunedin and Levin.

    But once the managers have axed the people, the machines can take over:

    Along with the job losses, Contact also plans to save money through upgrading its IT systems.

    Computer upgrades that save money? I bet those ‘upgrades’ will cost more than the ‘savings’. So just another overpaid soulless chief executive who’s bought into the big time bullshit because doing a job properly will delay buying another house, a bigger yacht and this year’s fancy car.

    Contact was one of those early power corporates buying into its own propaganda, telling you to suck it up and love it when presenting those price-rise letters of despair.

    ### Stuff Online Last updated 19:02 13/02/2013
    Contact Energy to cut more than 100 jobs

  19. Anonymous

    Further to the post from April 19th and the sort of news about gambling John Key doesn’t want you to remember.

    ### Stuff Online Last updated 20:46 06/05/2013
    No conviction for leaving kids outside casino

  20. Hype O'Thermia

    Is it any wonder the DIA comes across gutless and toothless, when it’s so clearly lacking support from Government?
    “Lacking support” veers closer to “being undermined” than I like to see.

  21. Martin Legge

    What about this from that man Maarten Quivooy to his Minister, Chris Tremain, dated May 2012, warning him in spin-laden terms about the non casino sector run by pokie trusts – the ones responsible for all the rorts?

    “The Department faces challenges in regulating the industry. The Department considers the regulatory system lacks a range of effective incentives to encourage compliance and the sanctions available are limited.

    In addition, it is the Departments experience that the sector is very litigious. Almost all sanction proposals are appealed to the Gambling Commission or the High Court and when coupled with ensuring administrative fairness, this can result in significant time delay between the identification of an incident and any eventual punishment. With this in mind the Department chooses its tools carefully to achieve the best outcome.”

    The last line should read – with this in mind the department turns a blind eye to hard cold documentary evidence to avoid litigation and the wrath of Peter Dunne !!!

  22. Hype O'Thermia

    Can’t deduce anything from this other than they have NO support from govt for their work.
    In view of that the department should be abolished to save money. Let the government act with transparency in its own name, putting its pick and choose patronage/persecution into public view.
    That’s going to happen, yeah!

  23. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Thu, 21 Aug 2014
    Labour promises to reopen Hillside
    Labour is promising to re-open Hillside workshop and invest at least $250 million to rebuild Dunedin Hospital if elected. The promises were made as Labour leader David Cunliffe toured Dunedin today, promising to make the city a “knowledge and innovation centre”. “A Labour Government will create 3000 more jobs in Otago by the end of our first term through our Economic Upgrades for forestry, manufacturing, fisheries, information technology and small businesses. And local projects such as reopening and upgrading parts of the Hillside workshop will be able to access funding through our $200 million Regional Development Fund, aimed at supporting local projects which provide an economic step-change for their regions,” Mr Cunliffe said. He also promised to reverse “years of neglect” of Dunedin Hospital by the National Government and invest at least $250 million into rebuilding it.
    Read more

    Related stories:

  24. Elizabeth

    Further comments and SkyCity news at this thread:
    25.3.14 Delta blues . . . and Easy Rider

  25. Elizabeth

    12.2.15 ODT editorial – Rolling the dice
    SkyCity Entertainment and Prime Minister John Key have entered into a game of high-stakes poker over the ”missing” millions to pay for the controversial New Zealand International Convention Centre. […] Mr Key has not ruled out using taxpayer cash to fund budget over-runs during the construction, and on that indication alone, the company’s share price rose.

  26. Hype O'Thermia

    Key is big on quickly committing to showy initiatives. Flag change, sky tower more pokies plus convention Centre.
    Important issues for the good of NZ and NZers, not so much.

    I wonder if he is working on Enduring Monuments to His Glorious Reign, that will endure and be seen from great distances after he retires?

  27. Rob Hamlin

    I met a gambler from far Auckland
    Who said: “One vast and trunkless leg of stone
    Stands in the cultural desert. Near them, on the motorway,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    ‘My name is John Key, builder of things:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The one level MacMansions stretch far away

  28. Russell Garbutt

    One of the all-time greats as far as poetry goes and the original thoughts that inspired the poem still exist today. There is no shortage whatsoever of people that strongly believe in their own importance and are unfortunately in the position to be able to pander to their own beliefs at our cost.

    The question that must be asked is “do we have the power to get rid of them when politicians start showing their true colours?” Answer, “probably not”. The main reasons are that the alternatives on offer are no better. Look at when Chin was thrown out at a mayoral poll. Did we get anyone any better? Despite all the promises he made, Cull very soon reverted to type. Who can replace Key? All of his own National Party front-runners seem at least as untrustworthy, and on the other side of the house is Andrew Little rabbiting on about giving race based control over essential things like water.

    The longer I live, the more I distrust any politicians, and the greater the contempt I have for most. Key’s position on Sky City was shamefully in support of that private company and the reinforcing of his power base in Auckland, while I have no doubt that Little would equally disregard the majority and pander to minorities that are more likely to vote for him or his party.

    The answer is not to stand for positions yourself in most cases – but something must be done to increase the brainpower and conscience of those that do stand. Really look hard at the quality of those that stand for national or local elections in Dunedin. Woodhouse? A preening little cockerel more interested in appearances than anything else. And almost the entire card at the local body elections were people that could be thought of as not qualified or skilled enough to run a corner shop. What is the answer? I honestly don’t know the answer (s).

  29. Elizabeth

    February 13. Black Friday.
    High views.

  30. Calvin Oaten

    Russell; “The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.” Be sure not to pee against it.

  31. Elizabeth

    Political cartoonist
    Sharon Murdoch @domesticanimal tweeted the sum of it at 7:05 p.m.

  32. Elizabeth

    Both SkyCity and the Crown had agreed the date for approval of the design would need to be extended. –Nigel Morrison, SkyCity managing director

    ### ODT Online Sun, 15 Feb 2015
    SkyCity no longer seeking government cash
    SkyCity is no longer seeking a government contribution to build its controversial convention centre. Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today announced that SkyCity had agreed not to pursue a financial contribution from the Government and would instead amend its design to ensure the facility can be completed without financial input from the Crown. NZME.
    Read more

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