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Church man fails to disclose National link in SkyCity submission

Published: 12:53PM Tuesday October 22, 2013 Source: ONE News

The electorate chairman of a National MP has been taken to task by an arm of the Catholic Church for giving select committee evidence in support of the SkyCity convention centre deal.
Seamus Donegan appeared before the committee of MPs on behalf of the Catholic Church's Justice and Peace Commission.
But he gave evidence contrary to the Church's position, while failing to disclose his link to National.
Mr Donegan appeared to back the SkyCity convention centre bill.

"We're having trouble making a connection between an increase in machines and an increase in problem gambling. We just don't see that one automatically follows from the other," he told the committee.

The problem is that the Church's Justice and Peace Commission is actually against the deal.

It has since distanced itself from Seamus Donegan's submission.

"The Catholic Church had to come out the next day with a statement saying that was wrong and they were misrepresented," Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said. 
It also was not disclosed that Mr Donegan is the electorate chairman for a National MP who is on that select committee, Pesta Sam Lotu-Iiga, National MP for Maungakiekie.

Mr Lotu-Iiga told ONE News he did not disclose this to other members of the committee.

Ms Turei said Mr Lotu-Iiga "should have told the committee that this man was his electorate secretary, and particularly given he misrepresented the submission".

Mr Lotu-Iiga said Mr Donegan probably should have disclosed his electorate role.

"In hindsight he probably should have disclosed that. I didn't ask a question of him on the committee and, yeah, he was there in his capacity as a member of that commission," Mr Lotu-Iiga said.

In a statement to ONE News, Mr Donegan stressed that his remarks to the committee were his own and that his links to the National Party had no relevance.

The Justice and Peace commission says it has taken him to task over his "contrary" submission.

War of words

A war of words has also erupted on whether a Labour government would scrap the convention centre deal. 

SkyCity Entertainment Group signed a deal with the Government in May to build a $400 million international convention centre in exchange for increased gambling concessions.

Prime Minister John Key says he understands Labour would not scrap the deal.

"My understanding out of sources out of Auckland is they have made it quite clear they won't rip up the contract," Mr Key said.

He added, "it's a pretty simple thing" for Labour leader David Cunliffe to answer.

Mr Cunliffe said the SkyCity contract would not be "incinerated" if Labour were elected, but the party would reserve the right to make sovereign legislation as required.

"It is within scope for a future Parliament to look at reducing the number of machines, or it could address other matters of gambling harm," he said.

"I would reserve the right for a future Parliament to address issues of gambling harm."

Asked if he has spoken to SkyCity management about the legislation, he said: "No, and we've made no commitments whatsoever to SkyCity."

SkyCity says while it accepts Parliament can pass any law it chooses, it says the sanctity of contract law is vitally important to a first world country like New Zealand.