National Party leader Christopher Luxon says his party’s MPs will take a break from their caucus retreat to walk around Queenstown today, speaking to people about the challenges the resort continues to face.
Speaking after his leader’s address at the QT Queenstown yesterday, Mr Luxon said the Wakatipu was an "important part of the region ... that is struggling".
"You’ve only got to walk around the main streets of Queenstown right now and go up and down the shops and see that there’s an endless amount of them closed.
"Tourism businesses have been doing it incredibly tough and part of [today] is ... actually going out and seeing people and having real connections with organisations and the public ... social services, start-up businesses, and just get a sense of how we can help.
"I would put it to you, walk around Queenstown.
"It’s not doing it easy."
"We know that the phone’s been off the hook, but now the phone’s on the hook again ..."
The focus now would be on getting the New Zealand public to "take our call" and provide a viable alternative government.
"The message, very clearly, is that it is game on for 2023.
"We’ve got seven quarters to get ourselves organised ... Work really has started today."
Mr Luxon said the party needed to reinvent itself — "we cannot be an old, crusty National Party" — oppose the Government "very strongly", and ensure it had proposals for economic, social and environmental issues.
"What I would say, is the opposing part is really easy because, I have to be honest, the Government gives us lots of material to work with.
"I’m not trying to be mean, or deliberately harsh, or critical for the sake of being critical, but you’ve just got to look at it in a really objective way, and it doesn’t matter what you touch, [nothing is] being delivered."
He was particularly critical of Government spending — an increase of 68% over the past five years — and said if the current trajectory continued, austerity measures would be required.
"The people that get hurt the most are the poor and vulnerable as a consequence.
"We’ve got a situation now, we have inflation going twice the wage growth.
"It’s going to become the pre-eminent problem, I put it to you, over the next year for the New Zealand people."