Wowsers deal crooked hand on pokie debate
The news reports unfortunates who can’t resist the pull of the pokies and throw everything they have into them one coin at a time.
There are also those who smoke, drink too much, eat fast food, vote New Zealand First, and invest in finance companies when the Global Financial Crisis is about to hit.
We even had a report of a poor woman who died drinking too much Coke.
What to do?
In the case of pokie machines the people’s representatives after much analysis and anguish have concluded the answer: 18,001.
That’s the number of pokies now operating in the country. It was a lot higher. But that number was wrong and the number of pokie machines has been ratcheted down for the past 10 years.
The theory behind the 18,001 is unclear. Presumably the imposed shortage creates a queue for pokies. The wait becomes too much for some and they head home to feed and look after their children and be good citizens. They are thereby saved.
There has been much gnashing of teeth and frothing at the mouth following the proposal to increase pokies by 500. That increase would take the number of machines back to where it was 15 months ago.
It would take an increase more than 14 times larger to get back to the pokie numbers of 10 years ago.
The wailing is also occasioned by the increase being part of a deal for Sky City to build a convention centre at its expense rather than have government dip into ratepayers’ and taxpayers’ pockets.
I like the deal very much.
Punters choose to spend their money at the pokie machines. There’s no law forcing them to do so. Ratepayers and taxpayers have no such choice. That’s a big difference. For that alone the deal is a good one.
Sky City also knows how to run conferences and the like. I have been to many at Sky City and they have all been top notch. I can’t always say the same about government and council-run events.
It makes sense, too, that the convention centre will mean more people to Sky City and hence the need to expand facilities, including pokies.
The debate has been heated by the claim that “New Zealand law is up for sale.” The government as part of the deal is to change the law to allow Sky City the extra pokies.
I was on Radio Live with host Willie Jackson. He labelled the deal “corrupt.” Half the callers agreed with him.
The New Zealand Herald editorialised that the two issues of the convention centre and the number of pokies should be kept separate. The Herald reasoned they are two separate decisions and should not be intertwined.
I can see the Herald’s point. But government negotiations where Parliament changes the law as part of the deal are commonplace.
For example, Treaty of Waitangi settlements invariably involve a raft of law changes that the government negotiates and agrees to. These always involve changing the law to advantage particular iwi in exchange for less taxpayer cash.
Each Treaty settlement produces a slew of parliamentary law making.
The law changes now involve constitutional-style change, including Resource Management Act veto rights for iwi and reserved seats for iwi on local councils. These law changes are negotiated by government and iwi.
The wowsers are deathly silent on Treaty settlement changes to the law. It’s not that the “law is for sale” that offends them.
It’s that the Sky City deal involves two big wowser no-nos: business making money and people having non-approved fun gambling with their own money. Wowserism. It remains alive and well in New Zealand.