Picton is a wonderful place with enormous potential, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
Mr Brownlee, in an interview with the Marlborough Express on Tuesday, said it was his personal belief that if the interisland port were moved from Picton to Clifford Bay, south of Seddon, Picton could become "the Queenstown of the top of the South".
Last week Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said he was concerned that the Government underestimated the economic impact of a move to Clifford Bay on the Picton economy in particular.
"There seems to be an assumption within Government that Picton will be able to transform itself into a Queenstown of the Top of the South," he said.
"However, Picton has to rely on a summer tourism season only and Marlborough lacks critical infrastructure such as an international airport, compared to Queenstown."
Mr Brownlee said he probably made a comment about his personal belief when talking to Mr Sowman about Clifford Bay, but it was not a "government assumption".
"It's not a fair comment at all."
It was a "ludicrous suggestion" that if the shift to Clifford Bay went ahead, that the Government should put an international airport in Marlborough, he said.
Mr Brownlee said he was a Marlborough ratepayer and spent a lot of time in the province, particularly in the Sounds.
"I've got a deep love of the Marlborough Sounds; I think Picton is a wonderful place. I think it does have enormous potential, but that's not driving any decision-making."
- The Marlborough Express