PM baulks at $20m for Queenstown centre

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Prime Minister John Key has quashed Queenstown council hopes that the Government will chip in $20 million for a conference centre.
 
On Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report today (Friday), Key revealed the Government’s contribution to a conference centre in central Queenstown – estimated to cost $60m including GST – is likely to be no more than $10m.
 
“I don’t think the issue too much is us committing to money, I think the issue is the amount of money,” he says. 

“We’ve always been of the view that it was kind of $5m to $10m, in reality more $10m than $5m. I don’t think it’s hugely realistic to think that we’ll put in a lot more than that.” 

Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden last month told Mountain Scene that councillors were counting on a $20m contribution from the Government to avoid ratepayers having to stump more than $30.9m. 

“I think the message from the last council meeting was at $10m [from Government] it’s not viable for this community.” 

Van Uden, however, tells Morning Report: “I think first off we need to say it’s great news to hear that [Key’s] keen on putting something in.” 

In response to Key’s revelation that the contribution’s likely to be less than $20m, Van Uden replies: “I don’t think that leaves us drastically bad.” 

Key also tells Morning Report that he’s not ruled out legislation enabling Queenstown to levy a bed tax. 

“We haven’t said ‘no’, what we’ve said is, ‘look, you come back and talk to us about all of those different elements and let’s see where it goes’.” 

Queenstown councillors are due to kiss or kill the convention centre next month during discussions on the annual plan. 

Of 875 submitters who gave their opinion on whether they wanted an international-standard convention centre in Man Street, downtown Queenstown, 59 per cent were in favour and 41 per cent were opposed.