The fire in the Sky City Casino cum Convention Centre just seems like more bad news on a project that really never made sense from the start. It was really just a vanity project for Key and Joyce, who may as well have had his office there.
In order to make any commercial sense to Sky City the government had to change the rules to give them another 250 pokies, as Convention Centres just never make money on their own as there just aren’t enough APEC conferences to fill the place year-round.
The tendering process was fatally flawed and those contractors who missed out must be thanking their lucky stars, given the massive and ongoing losses that Fletcher has incurred. This contract was the undoing of another celebrity business mate of Keys, being Sir Ralph Norris who discovered that running a construction business with no construction experience and just a banking background wasn’t nearly enough.
Having blamed everyone including his most unwise choice of CEO, he finally fell on his sword noting that they shouldn’t have tendered, when in fact they simply shouldn’t have tendered so low.
Pokies themselves are a much mis-understood sector of our commercial environment. Lots of earnest people earn a very good salary warning of the dangers of gambling and lots more use the big cash-flows at Sky City to launder all sorts of ill-gotten gains. ON the other-hand many sports and cultural organisations would die without the proceeds from this legal activity, particularly via their local pub.
What commentators and the public don’t seem aware of is the huge difference between Sky City and the local pub with its maximum of 18 pokies. In many communities the local pub is the main social centre and some of the customers like nothing more than a flutter on the pokies, often while their other partner is downing a few beers. Both of these activities can be harmful if not moderated but in most cases they are simply fun.
Pubs return around a third of their turnover to the community via various well investigated trusts while Sky City only have to return 4% of their turnover and they seem to be able to include various celebrity supporters in this payroll. In the pub the jackpot must be won once the kitty gets over $900 and under $1000. In Sky City this figure is 100 times bigger! Admittedly gambling is probably not the wisest investment but it is legal and not even the dopiest gambler loses his house to get $900 but once that figure rises to near $100,000 all sorts of dumb behaviour kicks in with potentially ruinous results to the gambler and their family.
So why doesn’t the Problem Gambling Foundation hone in on Sky City?
Anyhow, while we are on about flawed projects there are definitely a few around. Anybody really confident about the Light Rail project which has become a near religious icon to the Minister of Transport, Phil Twyford and his close friend the Prime Minister? Anyone who has been in Sydney lately would note firstly that there are no cargo boats in the harbour which has now become a lovely human environment (good example for our Port) but they would also note the total CBD disruption caused by the introduction of their version of light rail, called more sensibly trams! Lessons ?