Parliament has risen for the year and Christmas is just days away.
It’s certainly been a busy few weeks here and in Wellington – from John Key’s resignation and the following action to appoint a new leader, to the spreading of Christmas cheer around the electorate with various events and parades.
As I end my second year as your MP, I want to touch on 2016 and some of my goals for 2017.
Queenstown is facing some big issues – from transport and infrastructure to the cost of housing and shortage of worker accommodation. Look at me – I’m telling you what you already know.
It’s certainly been a busy and challenging year, but I’m proud of what we’ve achieved so far.
I’ve been a strong advocate for more investment in Wakatipu schools to ensure that our school network has sufficient capacity to support future growth.
To this end, I was thrilled last week to announce, on behalf of Education Minister Hekia Parata and Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye, that fast-tracking the expansion of Wakatipu High School to accommodate for a roll of up to 1800 students will now be considered in next year’s Budget.
The current plans, for the school’s relocation and rebuild, were designed to allow for a roll of 1200 places, with a masterplan to accommodate a roll of up to 1800.
Since contractors will already be on site, I’ve been pushing the minister’s office to consider upscaling the project to 1800 students now to ensure the school has the sufficient capacity to support future growth.
With the rate of population growth in Queenstown it’s crucial we keep ahead of demand – and this is a more cost-effective way of achieving this.
I’m also working closely with ministers and making good progress to expedite the sale of government land on the school’s Gorge Road site in order to fast-track a worker accommodation project.
I’m pleased to report my petition to the NZ Transport Agency to resolve transport and infrastructure issues in Frankton has received strong support, with close to 1500 – with more coming in each day.
Thank you to everyone who has already signed it at www.fixfranktonstraffic.co.nz.
It’s been great to host Transport Minister Simon Bridges in Queenstown three times in order to gain his support to drive faster solutions for our growing transport and infrastructure pressures – and he really is pushing for solutions.
My team and I have also lobbied for the approval of seven special housing areas and for special housing legislation to be extended.
I’ve been actively involved in the drive to improve health services in our communities and it was great to gain a commitment from the Southern District Health Board this year that Queenstown hospital will receive a new CT scanner and an expansion of its emergency department.
Many of you will know that I have been a strong advocate for a visitor levy of some description and I’ve been working closely with the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce over the past two-and-a-half years on what this might look like.
In the New Year, one of my key priorities will be pushing hard to encourage ministers to deliver on that.
Thank you for your support this year and for the words of encouragement many of you have passed on to me of late.
Until next year, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all.
Todd barclay is the Clutha-Southland MP