“Look mum, no hands” – council’s flippant approach to financial governance of QAC
Otago daily Times, 15 May 2020
Mayor Jim Boult has confirmed there had been no discussion between Council and Queenstown Airport Corporation over the latter’s finances before a majority of councillors voted to agree to QAC’s pre-Covid statement of intent.
This despite legal obligations for council to exercise financial governance over the council-controlled trading organisation, under both the Local Government and Trustee Acts. And a requirement for specified financial forecasts to be contained in the SOI under Local Government Act’s schedule eight – information acknowledged in the SOI’s front-page caveat to be redundant.
Councillors could have instead required QAC to come back with a stripped back SOI with more accurate information for agreement within two months, in a public process mandated by the LGA. This barebones SOI would be the minimum our councillors should expect from the high-powered, highly remunerated professional board responsible for our biggest community/council asset and only control mechanism of tourism growth. Councillor Niamh Shaw put forward a resolution along these lines – all councillors but Crs Shaw and Niki Gladding said “no thanks”.
Instead, they okayed QAC’s survival strategy being developed in a black hole with no community visibility, little council input and potentially only two days for the community to read, digest and feedback on the revisited SOI when it comes back for agreement (or not) in late October.
Only two councillors raised concerns over the total dearth of financial governance At the meeting, again Crs Gladding and Shaw.