Trio grill MP on street

Act New Zealand list MP Todd Stephenson answers questions from a handful of Alexandra residents...
Act New Zealand list MP Todd Stephenson answers questions from a handful of Alexandra residents during a flying visit to the town yesterday. PHOTO: JULIE ASHER
Pink catches the eye on a winter’s day and the Act New Zealand party van — painted pink and emblazoned with images of David Seymour and Brooke van Velden — drew a few onlookers in Alexandra on Tuesday afternoon.

Act list MP Todd Stephenson held a brief meeting on the footpath where a trio of articulate older men tackled him about the state of local government and the ability of people to pay ever-increasing council rates.

The brief stop was on his way from Queenstown to Dunedin. The trip was focused on visiting businesses and not on public meetings, he said.

Mr Stephenson said local government funding and governance needed to be addressed.

Health was a hot topic in the region and Mr Stephenson said he was part of the initiative formed by the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago District Mayors Glyn Lewers and Tim Cadogan and MPs Joseph Mooney and Miles Anderson to drive health initiatives for the regions.

Working with private providers was an option he was open to.

There had been a lack of forward planning in the health area, he said.

The massive growth in Central Otago and the wide range of residents’ ages meant future needs had to be investigated.

Rapid advances in medicine were also a consideration, Mr Stephenson said.

It could be that someone with an acute medical condition might have to go Christchurch or even Auckland for treatment but perhaps their followup care could be done in the region.

Working with private providers made sense — understanding what they were thinking and finding what was missing for the community, he said.

Prior to becoming an MP, Mr Stephenson worked for in the pharmaceutical industry in Australia for nearly 20 years.

He was travelling on the Act bus on a trip around the Southland electorate where he visited businesses and chambers of commerce.