MP dishes political advice

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Queenstown’s new MP is taking potshots at half-cocked projects from the resort seeking government support. 

Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay says he’s prepared to plead Queenstown’s case with ministers as the tourist resort attempts to upgrade its creaking infrastructure without the entire cost falling on the small resident population. 

But he’ll only back well thought-out and organised ideas. 

“I know how the system works and I know how the building operates and I also know, case in point, that you’ve actually got to have your ducks lined up before you go to them with a proposal.”
 
Barclay is gobsmacked that sketchy proposals for a bed tax – raised at last month’s Chamber of Commerce AGM – were lobbed at the government last month. 

Barclay – who acknowledges the idea might have merit – says a number of questions still need to be asked. 

“The problem with them [the chamber] talking too much about it and pushing the prime minister into a position of a yes-no answer, is he doesn’t know what he’s signing up for and he’ll just say no.
 
“You’ve got to get tighter on it.” 

On possible government support for a council-backed Queenstown convention centre, he says the government won’t name its price until the centre proposal is sorted first, a shortfall is identified and the government “has something to consider”. 

He adds: “Hopefully it’s not a burden on the ratepayer, that’s what I’m also worried about it.”
 
Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden plays a straight bat. 

She says the council’s priorities for the convention centre proposal are to progress a plan change hearing and develop rating options. 

“Central government has been kept appraised of this and we will be looking to resolve the question of their funding contribution in the context of these other matters.” 

Chamber chief executive Ann Lockhart also ignores Barclay’s criticism.
 
She says the chamber’s board wants a visitor levy investigated and initial conversations with central government “are that they are open to looking at proposals”. 

The chamber’s awaiting a local government working party consultation paper on funding.
 
Barclay might have only just been elected to his first term, in deputy prime minister Bill English’s safe Clutha-Southland seat, but he’s a Beehive insider – having been a staffer for English, Prime Minister John Key, Gerry Brownlee and Hekia Parata.
 
He also knows a thing or two about lobbying, having worked for tobacco giant Philip Morris.
 
With his relatively light parliamentary workload, the 24-year-old Gore-ite has the potential to be the resort’s greatest champion in Wellington. 

He’s signalled his intention to roll up his own sleeves, saying: “The onus is on me here as well, we’ve got to get organised and figure out exactly what it is that we want.”