Issue #941

LWB issue 941

Whinge away

by Paul Taylor

A friend of mine was complaining about Queenstown’s online whinging culture over the weekend, and asked me to write an editorial, with a final sentence reading: “If you don’t like living here, **** off somewhere else!”

I can see his point. I’ve just returned from a week in Egypt and while the pyramids, temples and tombs are epic, truly awe-inspiring, the insane Cairo traffic, the noise, pollution, unconsented urban sprawl, and visible poverty will live long in the memory too. Landing in Queenstown, you realise how lucky you are to live here. You can even drink the water straight from the tap, just about. And this weekend has been another summer stunner, with thousands getting out in the hills for the Motatapu, or to Millbrook for the NZ Open golf, not to mention the trails, treks, lake swims, parties, pubs and everything else that makes up leisure time in the adventure capital of the world.

But life is relative and, as such, there are definitely things to whinge about in Queenstown. As we can see from the QLDC’s latest Quality of Life survey (see p6) it’s mainly the council itself that gets it in the neck. Satisfaction ratings for elected councillors and council performance are at record lows, only 15% of us think they’re doing a good job. Generally, as you can read online, people are not happy with how much money they want from us via rates, and then how they’re spending / wasting it, not to mention the disruption from downtown streetscape and arterial road projects, the arterial road and Lakeview budget blowouts, the blinkers-on pursuit of Project Manawa (see p11), the perceived impotency of public consultation, parking, handling of the crypto bug debacle, and the rest. You live here. You know the drill.

While I definitely feel there needs to be a rebalance of power between elected councillors and the executive team at QLDC, and a lot more genuine listening to the public, much of this comes down to money, and I can sympathise with the council on that. Most of us, residents, businesses and council alike, are feeling the pressure from inflation and the cost of living crisis, so tension is heightened.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem Central Government will be our white knight. Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, in town on Friday, appeared to again rule out a local visitor levy, looking instead to “Sovereign Wealth money, overseas money, pools of capital here in New Zealand, public private partnerships, toll roads”. None of that sounds, erm, ideal. The government has also proposed increasing council debt limits, after rolling back Three Waters legislation. As Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan said recently: “Offering more access to debt is like offering a drowning man water.”

So, I say, carry on whinging, until they start listening.

A final note, one thing I definitely learnt in Egypt, which I think Queenstown could benefit from: tourists pay one price, locals another.

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