Petition deadline looms

You could almost put a dollar on it.

The government has until late next month to respond to a recommendation from New Zealand’s Petitions Committee on Accommodation Supplement eligibility — and if pre-election promises are anything to go by, changes should be made this year.

In September, the committee published its final report on Salvation Army Queenstown community ministries director Andrew Wilson’s petition to rezone accommodation areas across the country, to provide more equitable access to the supplement in areas which were farmland but are now booming residential subdivisions, like Shotover Country and Hanley’s Farm.

The committee stated it wanted to see "urgent progress" on rezoning those areas, recommending the government updates the accommodation supplement areas every time Statistics NZ updates its geographic boundaries.

The new government was initially given till December 4 to respond, but the deadline was extended to March 25.

At last September’s ASB Great Debate in Queenstown, finance spokespeople for National, Act, Labour and the Greens were asked by moderator Jack Tame if they’d adopt the committee’s recommendation within their first year of forming a government.

National’s Nicola Willis — now Finance Minister — said her party "would look at that" and "we will make sure that we rezone it appropriately ... and also that we make it fair and appropriate across the country and sustainable into the future".

Act leader David Seymour — the next deputy Prime Minister — responded: "It seems fair and I think it’s the right thing to do."

If the recommendation is adopted, the changes would positively impact tens of thousands of households across the country, particularly in Queenstown, currently penalised by outdated supplement boundaries.

Queenstown’s boundaries haven’t been updated in 32 years, despite exponential residential growth on what was previously rural land.