QLDC – A Council in Crisis [06/03/20]

Editorial: We all are familiar with that sense of an impending storm. There’s an electricity in the air, almost the smell of lightning before it happens – and an eerie sense of quiet – the calm before the storm.

More importantly the survey, along with its non-communicative consultants and unusually restrictive scenarios, represents a deeper problem. Our council – and in particular – Our Mayor.

Jim Boult started his first term well with progress on affordable housing and public transport, but now his second term has all the hallmarks of a man who has lost interest in what might be seen as the window-dressing of social issues.

Instead Mayor Boult seems hell bent on getting “his” second airport built at Wanaka – probably because the “first” airport in Queenstown can’t get much bigger due to its unfortunate, and arguably dangerous, physical location between mountains, a lake and a river.

Mayor Boult has airports in his blood. He was CEO of Christchurch Airport quite recently, and he’s well connected with Air New Zealand as well as the current management of the Queenstown Airport Corporation. His business mates, including the company he chairs – Real Journeys/Wayfare Group – want, even need, more tourists. Full stop. Airport boss Colin Keel does not get $550,000 a year just to keep the lawns mowed at Queenstown airport.

In the meantime, there has been precious little progress in diversifying away from our dependence on tourism for “growth.” Growth in this context means more tourist bums on seats – not higher wages, better worker accommodation, higher productivity or consideration for the environment. It is an “all of market” numbers game – no matter what Destination Queenstown and Tourism New Zealand claim. We are not chasing a smaller number of higher value visitors – it’s time that lie was laid to rest.

Read this in full here.

Main Image: Members of the public make their views clear at last year’s QLDC meeting in Wanaka. Photo: Crux

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