MPs missed chance to let law reflect reality

December 10, 2009

It wasn’t about religion.

It wasn’t about families.

Todd McLay’s Easter Trading bill was simply going to mean the law reflects reality in places like Wanaka and Rotorua.

Our Easter Trading law is a dog’s breakfast.

Shops in Queenstown and Taupo, which are judged to be tourist destinations are allowed to trade,  neighbouring towns like Wanaka and Rotorua which have with similar appeal to travellers, are not.

But changes in retail make the law even more absurd. Service stations are allowed to open and sell magazines but a book shop isn’t.

Year after year I’ve seen retailers in Wanaka ignore the law and open. Year after year the Department of Labour stalks them and lays some charges to make an example of them. Last time a Wanaka retailer appeared in court the judge said the law was a nonsense.

Yesterday MPs had a chance to sort out the nonsense.

The bill wasn’t going to unleash commercial mayhem and tear families apart. It was merely going to give local authorities the power to decide if shops could open in their area.

It would have let Queenstown Lakes and Rotorua councils fix local problems but  it was defeated 62-59.

No-one would have been forced to open a business, no-one would have been forced to work in it, no-one would have been forced to patronise it.

It would have just meant the law reflected reality in a few places where retailers choose to open, their staff have the right to work or not and people have the ability to patronise them or not.

Next year the bi-annual Warbirds over Wanaka will bring more than 20,000 people to the town. There will be stalls at the airport where the show takes place, there will be stalls on Pembroke park at the Sunday market, petrol stations, tourist shops and pharmacies will be open and selling things legally. Shops in town will also be open and selling similar, or event he same, things and breaking the law by doing so.

MPs lost an opportunity to back a very moderate Bill which would have meant the law reflects reality.

Instead of which it will be ignored and a law which is regularly ignored in this way is very bad law.


Gold in Otago ground and bottle

April 22, 2009

Oceana Gold reports promising finds of higher quality gold after test drilling  at its Macraes goldfield.

Mining and associated work by Oceana Gold  has revitalised the wee East Otago town of Palmerston (NB that’s just Palmerston, not to be confused with the slightly bigger settlement in the other island which requires a North in its name).

Further inland, a British honeymoon couple must have thought they’d found gold when they discovered a bottle of Gibbston Valley’s 2000 pinto noir at Gantley’s Restaurant in Queenstown because they paid $1000 for it.

Restaurant co-owner Brent Rands said yesterday the last bottle he sold was last year for $750 and with very few bottles remaining he increased the price to $1000 in January. “I thought, it’s getting so scarce now if it’s gonna go it’s gonna go …”

Let’s see, $1,000 for 750 mls equals . . .  a lot per litre.


Cycle network linked over time

April 20, 2009

The original idea of a cycleway the length of New Zealand sounded good but there were lots of questions about if it would be practical and affordable.

Te Araroa , the walkway from Cape Reinga to Bluff,  was suggested as a model but only a relatively few keen and fit trampers are ever going to use much or any of it. A cycleway using parts of the walkway or based on that concept would have had a similarly limited appeal and provided limited opportunities for spin-off businesses.

The current proposal  to be discussed by cabinet today is more practical, less expensive, more accessible for more people, will provide more opportunities for smaller communities to be involved and be based on local initiatives.

Plans for one of these, a cycleway from Queenstown to Bluff , are already well advanced.

Planning consultant Mike Barnett, who researched the Lake Wakatipu-Bluff route on behalf of Venture Southland, said the Ministry of Tourism had found “the practical thing was a network of excellent cycle opportunities in New Zealand which may lead to bigger things later.”

Mr Barnett said the network could be totally inter-linked “in 10 or 20 years’ time”.

Mr Barnett said the Lake Wakatipu-Bluff route could be ready in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, as research had been under way for three years.

Building cycelways will provide employement, but the long term jobs which come in its wake will be even more beneficial.

One of the reasons the Central Otago Rail Trail  has been so successful is that it was a local initiative and locals have been able to use the opportunities it provides for business initiatives.

It has been particularly good at opening doors for women who followed husbands or partners on to farms or into small coutnry towns where employment opportunities were limited. Thanks to the rail trail they’ve been able to create or work in businesses providing food, accomodation, retail  and other activities and have found new outlets for art and crafts.

The cycleway the length of the country sounded good, but a network of cycleways is a much better idea.


Shops may open despite risk of being shopped

April 9, 2009

Wanaka shops aren’t confirming whether or not they’ll defy Easter trading laws  and open tomorrow and Sunday.

But if past actions are any indication they will and people will take the opportunity offered for retail therapy.

The law enables all shops  just over the hill in Queenstown to open because it’s deemed to be a toruist resort, but not those in Wanaka.

Even sillier is that it allows one business in Wanaka to open because it sells to tourists but the one next door can not open legally even though it sells much the same thing.

Then of course because the law prohibits some businesses from opening, Labour Department staff have to work on the holiday to fine shop owners for working.

Whether they target Wanaka as they have in the past, and whether they shop after shopping the shops  for opening to shoppers will remain to be seen.

Kiwiblog has his annual rant on Easter Trading and Big News posts on the issue too.


Brothel gets a faith lift

April 4, 2009

The building which housed Candy’s Gentlemen’s Club in Queenstown has been bought by the Vineyard Church.

No doubt the new owners will give the former brothel a faith lift.


Let the community own their hospital

March 16, 2009

The Queenstown community wants to take over the ownership and management of the Lakes District Hospital.

The community model has worked well for Balclutha, Dunstan, Gore and Oamaru.

When what was then Healthcare Otago announced it was pulling out of rural services in the late 1990s, the Waitaki District Council stepped into the gap and formed a Local Authority Trading Enterprise (LATE) which became Waitaki District Health Services Ltd.

It built a community owned, publicly funded hospital which provides a wider range of services than would be available if it was under the ownership and control of the Otago District Health Board.

Balclutha, Dunstan and Gore hospitals are run by trusts rather than LATEs but they too are successful and all show that hospitals don’t have to be owned by the state to provide publicly funded services.

The Southland Times asks, whose hospital is it anyway?

It’s the communities and community owned and run models in neighbouring districts provide good examples for Queenstown Lakes to follow.


Call this summer?

September 27, 2008

If you’ve been following my posts over the past week you may have noticed that I’m just a wee bit grumpy about the clocks going forward this early.

In support of that I offer the following evidence:

1) Dunedin’s forecast for the next few days:

Day Conditions Min Max
Today
Showers
Showers
7 16
Sunday
Partly cloudy
Partly cloudy
8 14
Monday
Fine
Fine
7 15
Tuesday
Showers
Showers
6 13

2) Snow in Queenstown

3) I’ve just been talking to a friend at  Dome Hills who tells me it’s snowing there too.

4) Dutchie left a comment on a previous post to say he’d got stuck in snow while campaigning today.

It might be summer in the North Island but it’s not even late spring down here.


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