OPINION: Hospital band-aid not good enough

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Opinion: We need to take control of our own destiny, Queenstown.

I’m talking about the Lakes District Hospital and the health needs of the people of Queenstown and the surrounding districts.

Quite clearly the current model in Queenstown does not meet our needs and it has not met our needs for decades. My view is clear – the best model going forward is a community-owned health trust.

I believe we missed our opportunity 20 years ago when the likes of Gore and Balclutha went down that route.

An example of why it is needed is our transient population and our ageing population and quite frankly their needs are not being met. Another example of how the current model is not working is the wasteful spending which is occurring.

Six million dollars on a patch-up job to bide more time is a waste of money which could be better spent elsewhere. I’m not saying we need the Lakes District Hospital to be a base hospital, but by combining resources and services the ball is in our hand.

I have been having a lot of conversations for some time about a community-owned trust model which will mean we are in control of our own destiny. Having these conversations and looking at other models in the electorate reaffirms we need to and can achieve something that better meets our health needs.

I believe a community-owned health trust is the right way forward and I will continue to focus on reaching this for the region.

I will finish on another note on my work towards helping more Queenstown people, especially young people, into their first home. I wrote to the Minister earlier this year, highlighting the discrepancy in house prices between Queenstown and Auckland and he listened, by increasing the housing caps by $100,000.

However, more houses need to be built and faster.

I’ve also been lobbying the Minister for several months on KiwiBuild to ensure we are getting our fair share of the pie. Nearly all of the homes to date have been announced for Auckland. Like the Regional Growth Fund, Queenstown and the South Island have been missing out on a piece of the pie.

I’ve been constantly pushing the Ministers to ensure we get our fair share. After all, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I have been working hard to ensure Queenstown will get a good amount of homes which will help meet housing needs in the region.

Of late, these have been really positive conversations and there looks to be some good news in this space on the horizon.

Hamish Walker is Member of Parliament for Clutha-Southland