Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sky deal included anti-free speech clause

There was a large dump of documents from MED on National's corrupt SkyCity casino deal today (official release here; DocumentCloud with OCR here). I've been slowly reading it and doing my nut about it on Twitter, and there will be more posts later. But one of the more outrageous provisions was this, from a June 2012 briefing on negotiations [PDF, p. 29]

Selecting events for NZICC

SkyCity do not want the Crown to have the ability to prohibit them having any events of their choosing at NZICC [REDACTED] MED want the Crown to have the ability to intervene e.g. to avoid having protest groups hiring the NZICC at same time as a government event, and events that might, in the eyes of the government, damage the reputation of its national convention centre).

A compromise proposal was offered by MED. This involves officials meeting six-monthly with SkyCity to discuss forward bookings at the NZICC, with the ability to raise any concerns about proposed bookings from a government perspective and to have those considered seriously by SkyCity. There would also be an expectation that SkyCity would contact officials whenever they had doubts about the wisdom of accepting a potential booking.

(Emphasis added)

So, just to make that clear, the government wanted to limit access to the "national" convention centre to people who agreed with them. Freedom of speech? Apparently the Ministry of Economic Development have never heard of it.

I have no idea whether this has made its way in to the final agreement - but the fact that it was even considered shows that something is deeply wrong with our government, and highlights the dangers of such commercial arrangements.

Update: Yes, its in the final deal, and includes events that would "reasonably be expected to be materially prejudicial to international relations or to national security interests of New Zealand". Which gives the government a veto-power over any event criticising its foreign policy, such as an anti-free trade conference or one against international spying.