The Mountain Scene called National’s Clutha Southland candidate clueless because he couldn’t answer 10 questions.
MOUNTAIN SCENE: Name the Queenstown knight who owns a controlling interest in NZ Ski.
TODD BARCLAY: “Ah, it’s not Sir Eion Edgar, is it?” (WRONG)
MS: Who owns Millbrook Resort?
BARCLAY: “No, I’m not sure.”
MS: Name Queenstown Lakes District Council’s boss.
BARCLAY: “I don’t know the answer to that question – but I will find out. There are about eight or nine local bodies in the electorate and I don’t know who everybody is yet.”
MS: What’s the name of Lake Wakatipu’s famed steamship?
BARCLAY: “The Earnslaw.” (CORRECT)
MS: Who owns Shotover Jet?
BARCLAY: “No, I don’t know.”
MS: Name our local mayor.
BARCLAY: “Geddes, is it? I’m not sure, I’m sorry.” (WRONG)
MS: Name Queenstown’s two closest skifields.
BARCLAY: “Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.” (CORRECT)
MS: Who owns Queenstown’s two casinos?
BARCLAY: “SkyCity.” (CORRECT)
MS: Where’s Queenstown’s Hilton Hotel?
BARCLAY: “Just beside the Kawarau [Falls] Bridge.” (CORRECT)
MS: How many lanes does that bridge have?
BARCLAY: “One.” (CORRECT)
The correct answers are: 1 Sir John Davies, 2 Japan’s Ishii family, 3 Adam Feeley, 4 Earnslaw, 5 Ngai Tahu Tourism, 6 Vanessa van Uden, 7 Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, 8 SkyCity, 9 Kawarau Falls, 10 One
I should have got the first answer but it wouldn’t have been on the tip of my tongue and I wouldn’t have had a clue about the second.
I’m a ratepayer in the Queenstown Lakes District and heard the CE speak at a conference last year but wouldn’t have recalled his name instantly.
I’d have got the fourth right but although I knew the answer to the fifth it wouldn’t have instantly come to mind.
I’d have got the next two and knew the Casino owner but again might not have got it without a bit of thought.
I would have got the last two.
It’s fair enough to question a candidate’s background but calling him clueless because a couple of days after he’d been selected he didn’t know the answers to 10 very local questions shows the paper is clueless about the electorate.
Clutha Southland covers an area of 38,247 square kilometres. Within its boundaries are at least parts of Queenstown Lakes District, Clutha, Gore, and Southland District Councils and Otago and Southland Regional Councils. There might be small areas of Invercargill and Dunedin City Councils in it too.
Queenstown would have the biggest concentration of people in the electorate but far more of the 50,000 or so of the Clutha Southland constituents live in places like Gore, Lawrence, Milton, Balclutha, Lumsden, Riversdale, Te Anau, Winton. . .
A candidate from Queenstown would have known far less about these places than Barclay did about Queenstown.
Queenstown is an important part of the electorate and the country which is shown by the attention it gets.
It would have far more visits from the Prime Minister and other ministers than any other part of the electorate. Even the sitting MP Bill English probably goes there more than any other single place in the electorate because he’ll often fly in and out of there even if he’s going to other parts of the electorate.
But important as it is, it’s a small part of a very big electorate.
To put its area of into perspective, it’s more than 1,600 times bigger than Epsom, the country’s smallest on existing boundaries, which covers just 23 square kilometres.
The question to be asked of Barclay isn’t how much he knows about any one part of the country’s largest general electorate now, but how hard he’ll work and quickly he’ll learn about it all and get to grip with its diverse communities and their issues.
He convinced a majority of delegates that the answer to that is very when they voted for him last week. His challenge now is to prove it to the public he’s seeking to serve.
That task would be a little less difficult if he wasn’t being unfairly criticised by a paper which appears to be clueless about the electorate in which it’s based.