Government should bulk-fund Queenstown says National MP Andrew Bayly

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New Zealand

25 Jul, 2021 09:46 PM

Opposition treasury spokesman Andrew Bayly in Queenstown recently. Photo / Mountain Scene

Shadow treasurer Andrew Bayly believes the government should bulk-fund Queenstown through the Covid crisis to ensure the survival of key businesses and staff.

The National Party’s third-ranked MP, speaking during a recent visit to the resort, believes this is better than allocating shovel-ready funding which, in the case of the town bypass project, is only for half the job.

“Obviously the government [through strategic tourism assets funding] gave a big chunk of money to a bungy jumping firm, and things like that, but actually town is much wider than that.

“There’s certain businesses that are iconic, there’s certain people who are fundamental, we should have actually helped you get through that.

“I don’t think little bits of funding [for] shovel-ready projects is doing that.”

Bayly’s premise is that Queenstown is a drawcard for New Zealand’s tourism industry, and therefore needs support.

With his bulk-funding initiative, he says he would have let Queenstown, rather than government in Wellington, allocate the money.

Speaking just before Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced essential skills visa extensions for many migrants, Bayly also said he would make it easier for Queenstown to bring in ”critical” staff from overseas, for example, qualified chefs.

“This is where Queenstown should be actually helping the government formulate who’s really important for the town.

“The worrying thing is I don’t think the government will move fast enough to deal with your deficit of skills.

“The second thing is you’ve got people here on temporary visas who will leave NZ at the drop of a hat as soon as they can get home.”

Bayly’s third concern, on the staffing front, is Australia is “aggressively” trying to poach key staff and so, even, is Canada.

“Those three things are a cocktail that is pretty ugly for Queenstown, and you need a government that actually thinks about it, and deals with it proactively.”

– Mountain Scene