Same as Auck­land - but dif­fer­ent too

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS - JIM BOULT Jim Boult is Queen­stown Lakes Mayor

I never thought I’d hear my­self say this but we ap­pear to have a lot in com­mon with New Zealand’s largest city: Auck­land.

Let me put this in con­text though – I’ve al­ways thought the term ‘Jafa’ stood for just an­other fab­u­lous Auck­lan­der af­ter I fig­ured out how much value they de­liv­ered to our town through their very fre­quent visits to our part of the coun­try.

How­ever, this last week I had the op­por­tu­nity to sit with Phil Goff, Mayor of Auck­land, and com­pare some of the is­sues that face the Queen city and our lo­cal district.

High on the list of course was traf­fic con­ges­tion. We all know the frus­tra­tions of sit­ting in long traf­fic jams at Frank­ton but every time I go to Auck­land I’m re­minded, on the way to and from their air­port, that maybe our po­si­tion isn’t that bad.

That said, I think we have a fix com­ing for ours with the East­ern Ac­cess Road, the open­ing of the Kawa­rau Bridge and the even­tual dou­ble lan­ing (and new BP round­about) of State High­way 6.

Auck­land’s fix must in­volve some form of light rail and while a scheme has been tabled, it’s many many years in the fu­ture. I think our prob­lems are em­i­nently more fix­able.

How­ever, the prin­ci­pal part of our dis­cus­sion re­lated to the spend re­quired for tourism in­fra­struc­ture.

Like us, Auck­land is sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected (through its po­si­tion as the main New Zealand gate­way) by the mas­sively in­creas­ingly num­ber of tourists we wel­come to our shores an­nu­ally.

Mayor Goff’s fix for this has been his re­cently an­nounced tar­geted rat­ing aimed at ac­com­mo­da­tion providers. I much pre­fer a di­rect vis­i­tor levy, as that is trans­par­ent and jus­ti­fi­able but I un­der­stand Mayor Goff’s frus­tra­tion and his re­sul­tant in­tro­duc­tion of the new rat­ing charge.

Queen­stown Lakes District al­ready has a tar­geted rat­ing charge aimed at ac­com­mo­da­tion providers, but per­son­ally I don’t favour in­creas­ing that as it does place an un­fair bur­den on the ac­com­mo­da­tion sec­tor.

The other area of com­mon­al­ity for Auck­land and Queen­stown is of course the cost of hous­ing.

In this re­spect, I was en­cour­aged to hear a re­cent ad­dress by Re­serve Bank Gov­er­nor Graeme Wheeler who has the view that the con­tin­ued in­crease in hous­ing prices has prob­a­bly ta­pered off.

He did not how­ever, see a low­er­ing of house val­ues as there is con­tin­u­ing de­mand from net mi­gra­tion and from a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of ki­wis liv­ing in Aus­tralia and now re­turn­ing to their birth coun­try. That un­der­scores the need for us to con­tinue with our ef­forts to ad­dress the cost of hous­ing through the May­oral task force.

I look for­ward to see­ing some progress on this later on in the year.

PHOTO: DEB­BIE JAMIESON

Queen­stown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult.

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