Queenstown employers mull worker housing

Queenstown employers are evaluating whether to provide worker housing as the Government urges the job seekers to head south.

The resort's Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ann Lockhart said the chamber was investigating options to alleviate both the labour and housing shortage. Worker accommodation was on the table, she said.

''That's something we're talking with employers about.

''But there's no silver bullet. It will need to be a multi-faceted answer.''

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse told TVNZ's Q+A programme that anyone looking for work should move south, identifying Queenstown as one possible destination.

Businesses in the resort are struggling to fill positions, and thousands more job vacancies will need to be filled for Frankton Flats developments, including two supermarkets. But Queenstown is also in the grip of a property crunch.

Affordable housing to buy is scarce and only 20 rentals cheaper than $800 a week are available, according to property aggregating websites.

One rental agent says there are 15 applications per property, at busy periods.

Ms Lockhart said the chamber was working with the Queenstown Lakes District Council on possible changes to the district plan, to increase availability of land for higher-density housing.

''It's not something that's going to be resolved in the short term.''

The chamber was also working with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to bring more Kiwis to Queenstown.

That was the trade-off for relaxed immigration laws that allow resort employers to recruit migrant workers without having to prove there are no Kiwis for the job.

Novotel boss Jim Moore, one of the resort's major employers, said he could envisage a situation where worker accommodation was necessary.

''If it's the difference between that and not having staff, you make a commercial decision to do it.

''But I think most businesses are a long way from making that call,'' he said.

He believes businesses would be reluctant to provide staff accommodation because it would blur the line between private and work life.

Mr Woodhouse said it was up to the accommodation, hospitality and adventure sectors to find solutions to Queenstown's high prices, so accommodation was not a barrier.

Queenstown Accommodation Centre rental agent Craig Dow said the rental market was ''really tight'' and competitive, and not as seasonal as it used to be.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz


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