ACT Party leader David Seymour slams Invercargill Licensing Trust 'monopoly'
ACT Party leader David Seymour has slammed the Invercargill Licensing Trust's monopoly and questioned its $40 million hotel for downtown Invercargill.
But ILT general manager Greg Mulvey says Seymour does not have an accurate understanding of what the trust does for the city.
Visiting Invercargill on Thursday, Seymour said he was "stunned" by the ILT.
"You've got a situation where people are compelled to buy their alcohol outside of supermarkets . . . and you've got people spending $40m on a hotel in the middle of Invercargill with their money."
"I am not here to tell people how to feel, but I think if you want to have some increased vibrancy and attraction, and attract people and investment, you cannot do this under a monopoly."
Following the announcement of a new hotel yesterday, Seymour said there would be a majority who would this that was "nuts".
"It's a great project, but I just don't think there's any such things as a free lunch.
"If someone said they were going to take $100 a year off the family and said we're going to build a hotel, they'd say no."
The trust's website says in Invercargill the trust operates 24 hospitality businesses including hotels, motels, restaurants, bars and six retail liquor outlets.
The trust has exclusive, legal trading rights in terms of hotels, taverns, off-licences and bar type premises in Invercargill.
Seymour said he had become interested in the ILT in the past few days.
"I suspect what they would say is the same as anyone who's been given a monopoly by law," he said.
"But they forget what everyone else could have done with that money."
Mulvey said it was disappointing that Seymour didn't talk to the trust before making the comments, and wondered where he got his information from.
The trust's mandate from 1944 required that they provide hotel accommodation, Mulvey said.
"I am wondering how well-informed Mr Seymour is. He hasn't been to see us, or discuss our plans with us," he said.
"If he understood the role we play and the legislative requirements we have, he might have a different view."
The ILT returned between $8-10 million each year to the community's not for profit organisations and charitable organisations, he said.
"We're already giving millions of dollars back to the city each year, and that's split 50-50 between the ILT and the ILT foundation."
Many licensed restaurants and cafes were in operation, which the ILT did not own, he said.
"Rather than holding the city back, we're a major contributor to the city prosperity.
"I am wondering whether he visited the ILT stadium."