Bennett Morgan reports.
The government cabinet must be a much more relaxing scene coming into 2015. As of yet no members of the table have been embroiled in controversy and no PR disasters have made the upcoming meetings to be held there awkward.
But then again we are less than twenty days into 2015, so not to give them too much credit.
However there is one minister to watch in this cabinet. The cackling, all uninspiring tipped future leader and minister for everything Steven Joyce.
This most unbearable man, who now both the left and right agree is foolish and threatening to damage John Key’s now freshly-cleaned slate, from a Nationalite perspective should stay as far away from the television cameras as possible. His memorable “pretty legal” line in regards to the stealing of Eminem’s music gained international attention through the work of John Oliver. From a Labourite perspective we can only hope Steven Joyce is the next leader of the National Party.
“Pretty legal?” questioned Oliver, who went on to say it was just about as stupid as saying “sort of dead”.
But Joyce has greater problems now than his minor gaffes; he has to figure out how to fund Sky City’s $400,000,000 convention centre. Joyce, who suggested Aucklanders should pay for it through their rates, was met with staunch opposition to the idea from the Auckland Council which intends to spend the majority of its rates on new transport projects.
Sky City has a notable history with the National Party. Endless conferences and campaign launches has taken place at Sky City’s venues in central Auckland.
Most recently Sky City lobbied the government for a law change to allow the corporation to extend its abilities to expand and do its businesses. The whole scenario hinted of corruption, but didn’t become an election issue. Instead, discussion at the time turned to the consequences of gambling on poorer families and personal responsibility to restrain one’s self from gambling too regularly.
The issue was not, unfortunately, how Sky City had gained so much power over government to demand law changes to suit their expansions.
So, how will Joyce find the $400,000,000? It isn’t likely to be paid out of the ratepayer’s purse. Joyce has been the subject of criticism from right-wing commentator Matthew Hooton and Affordable Auckland/ACT candidate Stephen Berry.
“Not one single cent of taxpayer or ratepayer money should be funnelled into the pockets of corporates to fund a convention centre… It is obscene for Steven Joyce to suggest Auckland ratepayers be required to fund part of the construction of Sky City’s project when the Council’s books are clearly kaput. Back in 2011 I said that National would fail to return the Government to surplus by 2014/15 because I recognised it would require a change of behaviour the National party was not willing to pursue. This National government is clearly reaching desperation as it tries to balance its budgetary failures with obtaining future corporate donations.” Berry said. [Source: Scoop, Affordable Auckland press release].
The stupidity of the public’s passive view of corporate welfare, supported by our government and Steven Joyce, is touched upon brilliantly in The Simpsons episode ‘The Burns and the Bees’. In it Mr. Burns, a billionaire who gained public funds to build a stadium for his benefit said to the adoring crowd;
“Welcome to the American dream. A billionaire, using public funds, to construct a private playground for the rich and powerful”. [Crowd cheers].
The situation is no different here. An extended casino will have no benefit for ratepayers, so why should they pay a cent?
Sky City, Steven Joyce, or the National Party should find the $400,000,000 themselves.