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Govt may put money into convention centre

17:33 Mon Apr 23 2012

The government isn't ruling out putting money into building a national convention centre in Auckland.

It's negotiating with SkyCity, which has offered to build the $350 million centre in exchange for more pokie machines in its casino.

Prime Minister John Key on Monday indicated for the first time that if SkyCity didn't come up with all the money, the government could put in taxpayer funds.

That makes it more likely the project will go ahead, even if SkyCity doesn't get the deal it wants on pokies.

"There's a range of options," Mr Key said.

"Our preferred option is not to have to put any money in, but let's wait and see."

Opposition parties say Mr Key interfered in the tender process by going into a deal with SkyCity and Mr Key again rejected their accusations.

"Despite your best efforts there is no conspiracy and, this might come as a shock to you,(finance minister) Bill English hasn't got $350m to build a convention centre," he told reporters.

"It's really simple - we want one because it will create 800 jobs to run it and 900 to build it and it will bring in an extra 200,000 visitors nights every year."

Mr Key says he doesn't expect to have any problems getting the numbers to pass legislation for a SkyCity deal.

He thinks United Future's Peter Dunne and ACT's John Banks - whose votes he needs for a majority - will look at the deal when it's concluded and agree it's a good one for New Zealand.

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