Minister says Govt 'open to the conversation' about funding infrastructure

Grant Robertson
Grant Robertson
The Minister of Finance was yesterday urged to move quickly to find solutions for some of the issues facing Queenstown.

Grant Robertson made his first visit to the resort following the election and spoke to Queenstown Chamber of Commerce members about the recent Budget and work being done to address the resort's struggles, particularly with funding infrastructure.

At the end of his presentation, Chamber chairman Craig Douglas urged Mr Robertson to speak to colleagues and encourage them to ''move as fast as things are moving here''.

''There is a lot at stake here.''

Earlier, Mr Robertson said while there were pieces of work under way, including an independent review by the Productivity Commission which would look at options for local government funding and financing, at this point having GST proportionately returned to the regions was not on the table.

''There are certain people that will continue to advocate for that, and it may be that the Productivity Commission decide that is a good idea, but it's not current government policy.''

Mr Robertson said the Government recognised ratepayers could not be the only source of funding and it was ''sympathetic to the view that we need other sources'' to finance infrastructure.

''We're open to the conversation.''

However, he said the most important thing for him to understand was ''what the plan is''.

''It's all very well to generate money; what's it for?

''What is the infrastructure plan for this region?

''How is it integrated?

''We don't want to just make a housing plan if we don't have a transport plan.

''We don't want to make a transport plan if we haven't got the horizontal infrastructure sorted.

''So that's the piece of work we're wanting to do with the local council and then, over time, we'll develop [alternative funding streams].''

Last month the Queenstown Lakes District Council adopted its 10-year plan, almost triple the size of anything it had previously delivered, which sets out the infrastructure requirements and planned development over the next decade, with a price tag of almost $1 billion.

It includes the Queenstown town centre masterplan, which features new parking buildings, arterial routes, cycle lanes water taxi infrastructure, and bus priority lanes.

While the commission's findings were not likely to be released for another six months, Mr Robertson hoped the Government, in conjunction with the council, could ''start to come up with at least a plan'' before then.

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