The Jacinda and Grant show

October 27 2020 by Scott Stevens

The Jacinda and Grant show

What our new MP Joseph Mooney can achieve from the back benches of the opposition is a very good question we will be asking him over the course of this parliamentary term, and we the voters will be judging him on when it is election time again. For now, we can only wish him the best and hope he does not go missing in action (see page 8 for Joseph Mooney’s first words as our MP).

For the new government, it is 3 more years of the Jacinda and Grant show. With such a large caucus behind them some new talent is bound to rise through the ranks but let us not kid ourselves. This is the era of Jacinda Ardern and her righthand man Grant Robertson. Anyone who attended the finance spokesperson debate in Queenstown pre-election will know Mr Robertson is no fool. Will he visit Queenstown again or give a hoot if our glass is half empty or half full? Probably not. But what we can expect is a lot of hard work to safely reopen our borders with Australia and eventually the world. Grant Robertson might not directly oversee that task, but as the guy with the government purse strings he will be just as keen as hundreds of Wakatipu based businesses to see some foreign tourism currency in our coffers before the end of this term of government. Very few wish for a return to mass tourism. But we cannot live in an isolated bubble forever. Two years will be the limit for me.

For now, it is you, me, and our fellow New Zealanders. Domestic tourism is great, and the serenity of our land with a fraction of the usual tourism foot traffic is a blessing indeed. We cannot underestimate the positives hence the landslide vote in favour of retaining the Ardern Government. If I did not have the responsibility of supporting my family and the jobs of a couple of dozen other Queenstowners, I would quite happily hitch up the family caravan and head for the hills on one of those welfare handouts we hear so much about. But the handouts will stop. They must. No amount of wishful thinking can hide the fact money does not fall out of the sky. Or grow on trees. People need to work. I certainly do.

And therein lies one of the biggest challenges facing Queenstown. The lack of people willing to work. Economic diversification is an admirable ambition however the businesses here now and employing thousands of Queenstowner’s are built on the back of tourism and hospitality. Without working holiday makers, we are well short of the required employee numbers needed. Wages can and will go up as businesses become more desperate. That is supply and demand in its essence and none of my fellow capitalists can complain about that. But we need our government, Jacinda and Grant, to act quickly to allow those visa holders already in the country to stay and work in our town this summer. Nothing will be more frustrating than having a domestic tourism bonanza and not being capable of rising to the occasion.

Scott Stevens

- Scott Stevens