Government to open wallet for resort


A $1 billion fund to fast-track council infrastructure development will be “broadly” spent in Queenstown and Auckland, Prime Minister John Key says.

Speaking at a business breakfast in the resort on Friday, he says accommodation problems are not new.

“The housing market, roading, infrastructure — there is no question there’s pressure on those things in Queenstown. I think the simple answer is we have to do more and spend more.”

He told the Otago Daily Times the only way of “practically resolving” a housing shortage was to build a more affordable houses.

“Everybody accepts there is an issue in Queenstown. The role the government can play is making sure land is released and those developments take place.”

The government is working with the council to do that, including the use of the $1 billion fund, Key says.

Mayor Vanessa van Uden says the council was putting forward proposals.

“If they want to share it between us and Auckland, that would be great.”

Key addressed an audience of 330 people at the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce-organised breakfast at Skyline.

He said the infrastructure fund would take pressure off Queenstown’s council in the short term — with central government temporarily picking up the tab.

Urban development authorities (UDAs) were pitched by Key as a solution to the housing crisis nationally.

He said these authorities could create fully functional residential areas, with responsibility for all horizontal underground infrastructure and planning processes, and ensure they fitted with what already existed.

“In Australia, we have seen much larger developments at much better prices, driven from UDAs.

“If we are going to have New Zealand as a highly growing, very effective and successful country, we are going to have to build urban structures. It is not much more complicated that.”

He said while an influx of hospitality and other workers to Queenstown created a housing shortage, the town couldn’t function without them.

“Ultimately, if we want to continue to grow, we have to have the infrastructure to support that. With all the challenges of growth — the alternative is everyone leaving.

“Yes, we have some challenges but they are positive challenges of growth.”

Otago Daily Times