Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

The Crown won't be able to change Sky City's gambling concessions without paying for it. But it isn't the Crown that would do so.

I have but three words to say to those who think that the announced agreement between Sky City Casino and the National Government, complete with regulatory concessions that will permit the casino to make a lot more money from punters over the next 35 years, really is "legally binding" on the Crown. West Coast Accord.

Oh, sure ... Parliament stepping in to legislate over the top of a contract between the Crown and a company is constitutionally questionable. And, sure ... it might be a breach of the property rights of the company's investors. And sure ... it might cause those who control capital to get antsy about putting (or keeping) it in New Zealand.

However, if you want Parliament to be sovereign enough to (say) turn Christchurch into Gerry Brownlee's playground, then can you really complain when it starts messing about with deals Governments have made in the past? Furthermore, since when did Parliament acting in breach of individual rights really matter all that much? Finally, if investors want to make money off something as morally controversial as gambling, then don't they need to accept that there's an extra degree of risk attached to it; and anyway, isn't there something faintly ironic about a gambling company complaining about the House of Representatives fixing the odds in its own favour?

So John Key may think he's struck a very good deal with another commercial operator. But Sky City may find that when a new CEO takes over New Zealand Inc, the rules of the market are not the same as those of the political jungle.