Act Party leader David Seymour, who’s in coalition with the National-led government, is opposed to a visitor levy to fund urgently-needed local infrastructure.

However, that money can come from central government sharing revenue with local government, he tells Mountain Scene during a Queenstown visit last week.

As to why visitors shouldn’t stump up, as they do in many countries, Seymour says ‘‘look, I sympathise with the problem, but we don’t need a new tax to solve it’’.

‘‘Tourists are already paying through GST and the international visitor levy at the New Zealand border more than their fair share, more than they use.’’

Seymour explains Act’s GST-sharing scheme, in which councils consenting housing would get half the GST back to pay for infrastructure, ‘‘would massively help Queenstown with the problem it faces’’.

‘‘Fundamentally, there used to be a shortage of workers, now there’s enough workers, but nowhere for them to stay.

‘‘People would build more houses, but they’re not viable because there’s no infrastructure connections.

‘‘And there’s no infrastructure connections because if the council allows the construction to happen, it doesn’t get the money.’’

However, whether the government can afford to start the policy won’t be revealed till the May 30 Budget, he adds.

Seymour also believes he can solve the shortage of worker digs due to landlords Airbnbing their residential homes.

The first is GST applying to all Airbnb bookings from the start of this month, he says.

Secondly, under the Act coalition agreement there’ll be a number of changes to residential tenancies allowing, for example, fixed-term tenancies, ‘‘so you can rent out for six months and you don’t have as much demand for Airbnb’’.

‘‘So I think what you’ll see is more long-term stays for workers and less Airbnb competition with hotels.

‘‘So the Residential Tenancies Act changes will be probably better for Queenstown than any other area’’ — though they’ve not yet been announced by the government.

Meanwhile, Seymour calls his new Queenstown-based list MP, Todd Stephenson, ‘‘the pocket rocket’’.

‘‘I’d say Todd would be the most effective MP per inch in Parliament.’’

And he quotes a very senior Opposition MP telling him, at a party, ‘‘I can’t believe he’s first-term’’.

‘Things are really bad’

Seymour says if he has one message, it’s this: ‘‘Things are really bad.

‘‘The way the previous government left the books, things are worse for three reasons’’:

● Inflation — ‘‘inflation has carried on longer here than else where, and that is partly because of government spending’’

● ‘‘Huge fiscal cliffs’’ — referring to things long-term funding’s not been allocated for

● ‘‘The economy is in a slump’’ — meaning the government’s taking in billions of dollars a year less in tax.

On a scale to 1 to 10, Seymour says we’re at a 3 or 4.

‘‘It’s not as bad as a 1990 situation or a 1984 situation, but it’s certainly the worst it has been since the early 1990s.’’

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