Mayhew/Hilhorst - Two key airport submissions to QLDC's public forum

by David Mayhew and John Hilhorst - Apr 22, 2020

As tomorrow's important QLDC meeting is online only, we are not sure how the Public Forum submissions are going to be handled. Here's two key submissions on the thorny QAC/airport Statement of Intent from David Mayhew and John Hilhorst.

David Mayhew Chair, KPCA

"Kelvin Peninsula Community Association agrees with the QLDC Report that the impacts of COVID-19 are profound - put simply, the District is in a state of shock.

David Mayhew - KPCA Chair

It also agrees with Queenstown Airport Corporation’s disclaimer in the Introduction to the draft Statement of Intent, that an amended SOI is required - the existing business plan and financial projections have been rendered meaningless.

In these circumstances, it is not appropriate for KPCA to embark on an analysis of the draft SOI at this juncture. KPCA nonetheless reserves the right to do so, depending on what the Council decides.

KPCA submits that, in light of the changed circumstances facing both Council and QAC, the entirely reasonable and rational response would be for:

  • The Council to modify its expectations of QAC, by way of an addendum to its February Statement of Expectations, asking QAC to reconsider its draft SOI in light of the changed circumstances and resubmit it as soon as practicable.
  • Both Council and QAC to acknowledge that the consequent timeframes will likely require adjustment taking them outside the timetable laid down by Schedule 8 to the Local Government Act 2002.
  • All interested parties to accept that no one could reasonably object to that course being followed.

Essentially, a reset of the process is required, in these extraordinary circumstances.

Council will be guided in this regard by the principles set out in section 14 of the LGA 2002, in particular, the principles embodying:

  • open, transparent, and democratically accountable conduct;
  • • prudent stewardship;
  • and sustainable development.

The administratively expedient course proposed in the Council Report - treating the draft SOI as the completed SOI; dispensing with the process of Council commenting on the draft; and requiring Council formally to agree the SOI - is, with respect, both irrational and in default of the above principles:

  • irrational to agree something with which the Council does not necessarily agree;
  • neither transparent nor democratic to dispense with the comment process which has previously engaged both Councillors and communities; and
  • imprudent to exercise no oversight of QAC’s survival strategy for a period of 7 months (from 20/3/20 to 29/10/20).

KPCA urges the Council to embark on a reset as proposed above, stating an expectation that QAC will focus on the four key business priorities noted in QAC’s disclaimer."

From John Hilhorst.

"The underlying legal premise of today’s motion to agree to an irrelevant SOI is incorrect and demonstrates a deep ignorance that is worrying.

It is wrong to assert that QAC needs council action in order to satisfy legal compliance regarding its SOI.

John Hilhorst

This false premise creates mistaken pressure on councillors that would materially affect the  decisions they make today.

The law is clear there is nothing that council must do, or not do, that in any way affects QAC’s capacity to comply with its legal requirements regarding the SOI.

That council did not agree to last year’s SOI until 12 December emphatically demonstrates this falsehood. QAC was compliant the whole time.

The SOI is required to reflect QAC’s best reasonable outlook, expectations and goals of the business in the world as they see it.

It is clear that this draft SOI does not. The document states “the forecasts provided in this document are not valid”.

So in terms of required content, this draft SOI does not meet the requirements of the Act because it does not reflect the directors of QAC’s actual expectation or the business outlook for the company.

For QAC to present this draft SOI is tantamount to saying it could put anything in the SOI, even if it bears no connection to reality. Such content is no more valid than the story of Jack and Jill. And that would be patently absurd.

Council agreeing to it would be doubly absurd, given that there is no need for council to do so.

Today is different from when council pragmatically agreed to the last SOI. That document was sound, as it properly reflected QAC’s view of the business. But this document is invalid. To agree to it today, would be to forfeit integrity.

The combination of:

  • Ignorance of the law with the false imperative of needed council agreement for QAC’s compliance, together with
  • A willingness to agree to a Jack and Jill story for a legally mandated statutory report,

Would destroy public confidence and trust in council’s ability to lead the ongoing public debate regarding the future of our airports.

I am also concerned this action would put off for seven months the responsibility of QAC to report to its owners at this time of crisis. We deserve better."



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