Benefits should come our way

TIM SHADBOLT
Last updated 13:56 04/03/2014
Tim Shadbolt
TIM SHADBOLT: Invercargill mayor.

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OPINION: Once again we have the opportunity to experience a wide range of events in and around Invercargill.

The Farm Jam Motocross and two wheeled action at Otapiri Gorge, the Southland A&P Show at Donovan Park, the Zirka Circus at Queens Park and the Relay for Life at Rugby Park as well as numerous sporting events at the Velodrome and our new ILT Stadium.

Usually I try to attend every major event but last weekend I could only fit in the Wild Food Festival as I had other commitments outside the city.

One of the thrills of domestic travel is that you get to read details published in numerous newspapers from around the country. It's like having an intimate insight into all the dramas and traumas of your next door neighbours without looking like an intrusive nosey-parker.

If I hadn't picked up a copy of the Nelson Mail, for example, I would never have known about the Tasman District Council cutting funding to its i-Sites. The Murchison centre loses $74,000 pa, the Golden Bay Centre $64,000, Motueka $50,000 and Nelson $30,000. The council is facing huge debts and the i-Sites are about to be sacrificed. Murchison may only have a population of 800 but 10,000 tourists visit their i-Site every year.

A lot of visitors now get information from the internet but advice on safety when tramping is often overlooked and we spend millions of dollars searching for trampers who get lost in our beautiful but deceptively dangerous parks.

Another interesting tourist- related headline was published in the Mountain Scene: "All about getting to Queenstown".

The quote was from China's Consul-General, Madam Tan Xiutan, at the first landing of China Southern Airlines in Christchurch, investing in a tourism venture that will benefit both Christchurch and Queenstown. China is also making a $60 million investment in an International School in Dunedin. It should not be forgotten that Invercargill is the South Island's third largest city - surely it must be our turn next.

Another interesting headline was in the Otago Daily Times: "Ngai Tahu eyes second project".

It was all about Ngai Tahu building its second student hostel for $20 million in Dunedin. This is great news for the Otago Polytechnic but when you examine Ngai Tahu investments on a regional basis it seems Southland is not getting its fair share.

The reason the Ngai Tahu settlement was so substantial was because they covered most of the South Island in 1840 and the reason they controlled most of the South Island was because of their military powerbase in Southland.

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Southland may claim responsibility for repulsing Te Rauparaha's invading armies but Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown seem to have reaped all the economic benefits of those military victories. When SIT need student hostels, they have to pay for the land from their own funds and construct the buildings from their own funds. There is no freebie land and freebie hostel for them.

Another headline that irked me a little appeared in the Dominion Post: "Legal Pot seen as Billion- dollar Industry".

It was all about Colorado making millions of dollars in taxes and millions of dollars from the boom in tourism as a result of legalising cannabis.

It now seems likely that Washington State will follow Colorado's example. The financial benefits are simply too obvious to ignore.

Numerous other states throughout America have already legalised cannabis for "medicinal" purposes. Many states in Australia and Canada are also liberalising their laws.

It was President Nixon who launched the War on Drugs and we followed America into battle out of loyalty. Now they seem to be doing an about-face and leaving New Zealand to fight the war by itself.

Imagine if they had done that to us in Vietnam. After loyally following them into the war, they suddenly decided to open up trade with the Vietcong and left us to carry on fighting.

Despite all the provocative headlines from around New Zealand, the real literary treasure for me was The Southland Times' February 25 editorial headlined "Time, gentlemen, please . . .". This delicate, tasty little morsel of understated journalism drew a wafer-thin wiggly line between a former MP's lobbying, port and cigar smoke and mayoral handshakes. Occasionally I have consultants but there is always a paper trail. The old school tie just didn't cut the mustard. Tim Shadbolt is Invercargill mayor.

 

- The Southland Times

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