Another day, another rort… Sky City Casino Convention Centre deal

Most folks will recall that Sky City corporation has been eyeing up some neighbouring land. They wanted to buy it and the current owner, TVNZ, did not want to sell.

Previously TVNZ had said that Sky hadn’t even formally approached them or made any formal offers.

Now keeping in mind that land in central Auckland is, well it’s not just expensive, it’s almost priceless. It is THAT expensive.

One reason why TVNZ didn’t want to sell some of their land is the disruption would be mind bogglingly bad for their staff.

In today’s NZHerald online it is said that a sale is going to go ahead, here’s a short quote…

TVNZ has revealed plans for a makeover and refurbishment using cash from sale of land for the SkyCity Convention Centre, with staff in temporary accommodation for around two years.

SkyCity paid $10.6 million for 81-95 Hobson street which is around $2 million more than the ratings valuation for the land.

… to that I say, that TVNZ have just bent over a barrel and let SKY Corporation do them over them over like a kipper.

Look SKY wanted that land and they were determined to get it come hell or highwater. They absolutely HAD to have that land for their much vaunted “convention centre”. (Either that, or simply re-design it, to fit the land they had). Who knows, if TVNZ had refused to sell the land at ANY price, maybe they would have sent out hit-men to kill everyone at TVNZ then bought it at the estate sale after the mass funerals, if need be.

TVNZ are gutless wonders. What useless negotiators. With houses in Auckland often selling for double and sometimes triple their RV (ratings valuations).

The RV on the TVNZ land is about $ 8 million, so any half decent negotiator, knowing that SKY wanted that land SO very badly, (it’s basically a key part of their $ 500 million expansion plan) would have pushed for a far higher price than barely 20% above RV. Pathetic, absolutely pathetic. How much is that negotiator guy paid ? They’d be better off employing the tea-lady to do their property sales negotiations. I could have got them a better price than that.

I would’ve said “yeah mate, we might sell that bit of land to you, for somewhere between $50 and $100 million”. Thankyouverymuch, nice fat profit in the back pocket for TVNZ.

It’s called private enterprise and private land ownership mate. If I own something, and you want, and you want it REAL bad. You have to pay WHATEVER price I ask.

Now it seems, TVNZ’s hardworking staff will have to spend 2 years, maybe more, in temporary and very much second rate premises as the refurbishments and modifications to their existing buildings takes place.

I reckon another $40 million to $90 million would have made that bitter pill a lot easier to swallow. Would have given TVNZ a big pile of cash for some upgrades and a few goodies for their staff.

An aerial view, associated with the NZHerald article, indicates that TVNZ will be giving up land and buildings that amount to more than a quarter of their original land area. I can only imagine the nightmare that poor TVNZ staff will have to put up with.

The Government has said as a concession that TVNZ will be allowed to pay the government coffers a reduced dividend this year. So this is effectively yet another taxpayer funded subsidy for the Sky City Casino. It really does show that National Party prime minister John Key is firmly in the back pocket of Sky Corporation and they’re only too happy to oblige him with a reach-around.

The Sky Casino has a reverse Midas touch. Everything they touch or have anything to do with turns to cow poop and spells disaster for New Zealand. For the sake of a relative handful of jobs, they are peddling misery and financial ruin for so many Aucklanders and mopping up government subsidies like a vacuum cleaner. The concessions the government has given Sky Casino for their expansion so far (that was totally prohibited by existing gambling laws) beggar belief, and here we go again, more taxpayer subsidies. Just so they can rip more New Zealanders off a bit more. Shame on you NZ government, shame !

UPDATED… A later article on the Stuff/Fairfax website gives some more details, not included in the earlier article. Just a couple of months ago TVNZ sold a neighbouring small land/building (93 Hobson Street) to SKY, and you guessed it, for barely 25% more than the RV. The later article also details how TVNZ will be needing to rent office space elsewhere for 2 years for upto 500 staff. YEP, a bad deal all around for sure. TVNZ you got done over well and truly.

Here below is a link to the article on NZHerald’s website.


When is Rape legal ? When it is performed by government agents… apparently

Perhaps a qualified lawyer can give me advice on the following scenario.

Rapist in dark alleyway, holds knife to a woman’s throat, and the conversation goes something like:
Rapist… “I want to have sex with you, do you consent?”
Woman… “Err, umm, that knife does look very sharp and I can feel the point of it digging into my skin, umm, yes. Yes I do consent to having sex with you”
A sexual act then occurs before the two parties go their separate ways. Later, due to excellent detective work by hardworking police officers, the assailant is brought before the courts and charged with rape. Although consent WAS given, it was NOT freely given. It was only given under duress. Consequently the rapist finds himself in the Big House for a Stretch, doing Porridge at Her Majesty’s pleasure. (translation for non-English people… The rapist would be sent to jail).

That’s all fair and reasonable. Consent given at the point of a knife or gun, isn’t really consent at all, is it ?

OK so how does that differ from the landowners of the eastern and southern areas of Christchurch’s CBD (downtown) area? In mid-2012, the government announced that it was simply going to take possession of about 60% of the CBD land area.

Some of this was bare land as earthquake damaged buildings had been demolished, but nothing re-built yet. Some land had new, or nearly new buildings on it (built just before the shakes or replacements for damaged buildings, built to the highest earthquake resistant and energy efficiency standards), and some historic buildings, now fully restored and strengthened to meet modern building standards.

The government at the time claimed there was a huge oversupply of land and that it was almost worthless. The land would NOT be taken under the usual “Public Works” act, which allows governments to take freehold land from the owners for essential infrastructure like roads and hospitals. The Public Works act also gives certain rights to the owners, such as the right of first refusal to buy the land back off the government for the same price they sold it for, if ever the government decides it doesn’t need the land for that intended purpose.

Under the special earthquake ‘recovery’ laws, people have less legal right to fight against the seizure of their land, and also land the government seizes, which it claims is needed for more green parks or new buildings like a convention centre or sports arena, can later be on-sold to anyone at any price if they suddenly decide that it was all a big mistake and they didn’t need the land after all.

The government has publically said that the offers they make to landowners for compensation are ‘take it or leave it’ type offers. Yes the landowners can ‘negotiate”. But ultimately the government pays whatever it wants to in compensation for taking the land. The owner either agrees to accept that amount as full and final settlement on the land, and the government takes possession of it, or the government simply takes possession of the land anyway, and the landowner gets nothing.

Landowners who have already accepted settlements have said that negotiations start with the government agents offering about 10% of the previous land valuation. Some owners say they managed to get up to 90% of previous land valuation as a final settlement. However often the highest figure the government will go to is much less, in some cases less than what is still owing on a mortgage loan.

And with 60% of the CBD land area being effectively removed from the free market overnight, the value of other land in the CBD has sky-rocketed. This has been extremely good news for the lucky few who own land in the western and northern CBD area (mostly that’s a handful of rich property investors and some ‘old money’ wealthy Christchurch families).

Eastern (and southern) CBD landowners therefore find themselves completely priced out of returning to anywhere near the CBD/inner city, and, oftentimes unable to afford anything comparable that is suitable anywhere within the Christchurch city area at all.

This is exactly the situation that the Deaf Society find themselves in, regarding the demolition of their earthquake damaged headquarters and club-rooms building that was at 232a Armagh Street. Any chance of insurance simply re-building on the same site, has been scuppered by the government’s wholesale land seizure program in the eastern and southern CBD.

After the flooding damage caused to New Orleans (when Hurricane Katrina missed the city, but the effects caused levee banks to rupture), I heard that the local government there was going to use their powers (in the USA called “eminent domain”) to simply seize the land out from under the rightful owners, especially in the poorer area known as the Lower Ninth Ward. OK so that’s in America, where the government is well in the pockets of big business and the banks, and you expect that sorta thing.

But it never occurred to me when the earthquakes affected Christchurch, that our biggest enemy would be the government in Wellington. Creating whole new bureaucracies, and passing laws, to enable wide-scale land seizures here. Here in a, usually, civilised country like New Zealand.

So if a bunch of mean looking dudes turn up at your house and announce that they are taking your big new $4,000 flat screen tv, whether you like it or not, “but they will negotiate”. They start off offering you $20, but after spirited negotiations on your part, you manage to get the price offered up to $50. So then they grabs your telly off the wall and walk out. Would that be legal, because you consented to the ‘sale’, or illegal because your were initially presented with a fait accompli that they were taking the telly, and you simply agreed to what compensation they offered in the end ?