Our PM and the Southern Lakes - Missing in Action
You know that strange feeling when you suddenly get an idea in your head and think "Surely that can't be right?"
Well try this for size. Our Prime Minister has never attended an official event in Queenstown or Wanaka, or even had an official meeting with our Mayor. She's been on stage at the Aspiring Conversations event in Wanaka around 18 months ago - but that seems to be it.
The United Nations - tick. 10 Downing Street - tick. The world's capital cities - tick. Queenstown and Wanaka - absent.
Now, apologies in advance to the PM and her staff if we have missed something but a quick check with Mayor Jim Boult this morning confirmed the almost unthinkable - we are being Royally Ignored. Mayor Boult has never - officially - met our Prime Minister.
The PM's famous (for all the wrong reasons) Regional Economic Development Minister, Shane Jones has been conspicuous by not only his absence but his reluctance to shower any cash our way. After all we are all fully employed, wealthy and well paid - right? No problems here, right?
And before the National Party local branches get overly excited - their attendance has not been much better. Better, but not by much. And, no - most of us don't believe that a change of governing party in this neck of the woods will instantly solve our public health, maternity, low wages, and housing crises. That's the stuff of fairy tales.
So, is it something we said? Is it something we have done to offend someone? After all - being ignored by our Ultimate Leader is something we should be a tad concerned about.
Here's a list of possible reasons - there's no single correct answer.
- Labour think they can't win the Clutha-Southland electorate - so we are on our own. Good Luck.
- We are all rich, happy and healthy and don't need any help or attention.
- It's different down here and politicians don't understand us.
- The Clutha-Southland electorate us such a weird mix of farming in Gore and backpacker-labour in Queenstown - no political formula applies.
- The Wanaka and Cromwell (Waitaki) electorate is based out of National MP Jacqui Dean's office in Oamaru. No political formula applies.
- Jim Boult has our backs - so no work or relationship management is necessary.
- The new Bed Tax will fix our problems - and did not cost the Government a cent. Perfect outcome.
- The GST Dollars and Tourism Traffic are still rolling in - as above - no relationship management is necessary.
- The relationship is managed via Auckland International Airport Ltd and their 25% stake in our airports.
- Nobody noticed that voting at the Queenstown central polling station in the last elections was almost 50/50 Labour vs National.
In any case we are sort of used to be ignored, partly because one of NZ's most favourite sports is repeating the following phrases over a period of 20 - 30 years.
- It used to be great, but now it is so spoilt, so overcrowded - I'd never think of going there.
- It is crazy expensive - how do they expect Kiwis to pay those obscene prices?
- It's cheaper to go to Sydney.
- Too many tourists.
So should we be offended that Jacinda Ardern does not want to pop down and have a chat? Probably.
If we don't warrant a visit, it suggests a deeper problem. We are not on the Political Agenda - and that is serious. We really are On Our Own.