No way, says Mr User-Pay


Former CivicCorp owner Kampman slams Lakes Leisure charges.

The father of Queenstown Lakes District Council’s “user-pays” model says new council quango Lakes Leisure is overstepping the mark.

Rene Kampman, former managing director of QLDC’s privatised regulatory contractor CivicCorp, slammed “expensive” charges from sports quango LL at a public protest meeting on Tuesday night.

About 45 people turned up at Queenstown Primary’s school hall to air their views about LL,

QLDC’s new one-stop management shop for Wakatipu leisure, recreation and culture.

Kampman told the meeting he’s concerned the community’s been “sold” the council-contro

lled organisation model because it’s not-for-profit – but no one is “mea­­suring the effectiveness” of LL.

“For some reason, profit seems to be a bad word. The justification is that because it’s not-for-profit it’s OK. But what we have ended up with are two separate structures.”

He was shocked when his six-year-old son told him he had to pay to use the Events Centre tennis courts – just to have a hit “because he wants to learn”.

“I’m strongly of the view that when it comes to youth sport we shouldn’t be paying.”

Kampman says QLDC and LL aren’t aware of the current discontent in the community towards them: “They run the risk of being decoupled from the community.”

CivicCorp was only the second privatised council regulator in New Zealand when contracted by QLDC in 1998. Kampman remained at its helm until community dislike of CivicCorp forced QLDC to replace it with not-for-profit Lakes Environ­mental in 2007.

The irony of CivicCorp being Queenstown’s first “user-pays” council contractor isn’t lost on Kampman but: “CivicCorp was dealing largely with private developers, whereas what we are dealing with here is our community – it’s our children.

“CivicCorp used to sponsor a lot of community events and groups…it’s about our children and giving them opportunities.”

Meanwhile, the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce has also come out swinging against LL.

Chamber board member Richard Thomas calls LL a “self-serving cash machine driven by bulging bureaucracy”.

Community groups, mostly led by volunteers, can’t afford to sustain – and don’t need – a “corporate-type business model” to manage community assets, he says.

“QLDC and their ‘council-controlled organisations’ need to be reminded they work for the good of the community first.”

The Chamber’s worried LL’s management of facilities will have wider repercussions on outside event organisers – “cost will become a deterrent”, Thomas says.

Tuesday night’s meeting, organised by local sports stalwarts Craig “Ferg” Ferguson and Merv Aoake, ended with a group of three – Ferguson, Aoake and rugby and running volunteer Simon Spark – deputed to help QLDC “solve short- and long-term issues for the better of sport and the com­munity”.