Queenstown will retain strong links to the country’s top politicians if National stays in power after the election.
Prime Minister John Key visited Queenstown last week to announce he’ll stay on as Tourism Minister if his party wins.
Key’s Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is likely to retain his Clutha-Southland seat, an electorate which has included the Wakatipu since a boundary change in 2007.
English, originally from Dipton in Southland, is also breaking with tradition to host his election night supporters’ bash in Queenstown for the first time.
English’s Queenstown electorate agent Barbara Swan says in the past he’s always gathered with supporters in Dipton or Gore, but this time will host a knees-up at Queenstown’s Jack’s Point on Saturday.
“This area now represents about 25 per cent of the constituency. The Minister was very keen to be in Queenstown and Jack’s Point provides a marvellous setting,” Swan says.
When the boundary changed in 2007, English told Mountain Scene he wouldn’t have quite the same time to devote to Queenstown as National’s then-Queenstown MP Jacqui Dean because of his seniority.
“But I’ll have the benefit of experience to pick which issues matter and hopefully have an influence in the upper reaches of the next Government,” English said at the time.
Key is promising to keep a tourism focus at the heart of Government.
National’s tourism policy paper notes having Key as the minister puts the sector – the country’s second biggest export earner – at the heart of the Government’s economic thinking and Cabinet decision-making.
“What’s more, the Prime Minister is able to be a powerful advocate of the industry off-shore,” the policy paper says.