Biz bods want nod


Two long-time Queenstown businessmen who’ve had major community roles are among new council candidates standing in this October’s elections.

They’re Tony Hill, 66, who’s held health-related positions, and John MacDonald, 58, a former chairman of regional tourism body Destination Queenstown.

Hill, a Wakatipu resident for almost 40 years, says the district’s at a critical point.

He believes he has the business and corporate governance experience to play a pivotal role in solving some of the important issues.

He advocates a bed tax to help fund costly infrastructure and ensure it’s not a burden on ratepayers.

“But any such tourist tax has to be sanctioned by the industry to enable it to be implemented fairly across the board.

“We need a consensus and a combined approach with the accommodation providers so it can be successfully implemented.”

Hill also says green edges need to be retained on the entranceways to Queenstown, as they’ve been in Wanaka.

He has particular concerns over perceived safety issues in downtown Queenstown at night.

“Additionally, the often filthy state of the streets ‘the morning after’ does not fit the pristine tourism profile we promote and I would like to find ways, by supporting the DowntownQT business organisation, to mitigate this.”

Appointed chairman of the former Wakatipu Primary Health Organisation in 2004, Hill’s now a director of the regional PHO, WellSouth.

He chaired the former council-controlled organisation Lakes Environmental for six years, has been a founder director of Queenstown Resort College since 2003 and was secretary/manager of the Lakes District Air Rescue Trust for 13 years.

MacDonald, meanwhile, is standing because “we’ve got to develop a vision of where we’re going and what we want to be - if we don’t, it will just steamroll us over”.

“Unfortunately, we don’t control some of the things that we would like to control, as in roads and transport, but I think we could have a lot more effect if we worked together.”

He advocates a transport hub but doesn’t think park-and-rides will work.

“Personally, I think there needs to be a free or very cheap shuttle bus service around the town - you have to have a compelling argument to get people out of their cars.”

MacDonald says he’s not heard anyone discuss the extra Frankton Flats traffic congestion once Wakatipu High moves there in 2018.

Affordable or worker housing, he says, “needs to be locked in so it stays within a pool”.

“We don’t want hundreds of people travelling to Cromwell every day.”

Originally a Canterbury farmer, MacDonald moved to Queenstown 30 years ago and has been a rafting operator, tourism publisher and auto repair shop owner.

He had nine years on the DQ board, including three as chairman, and headed the former Queenstown Winter Marketing Group.