We Love Wakatipu Inc, submission #2 to QLDC council meeting

25 June 2020

Good afternoon councillors, nice to see you off screen. I’m Cath Gilmour, chair of We Love Wakatipu Inc.

Usually at this meeting you would be agreeing, or not, to QAC’s statement of intent.

Instead, you are starting the process to shape QAC’s third SOI in under a year – the previous two having been agreed to with serious caveats – six months late then two months early. (December 2019, April 2020, October 2020)

It was good to hear Cr Quentin Smith push back against QAC’s suggestion that the joint steering group need not meet til late August, a timeline designed to sideline councillors.

When the QAC-QLDC group was set up, we expressed concerns about loss of transparency and the potential for excluding other councillors through this process.

We hope the next four months and the resultant SOI will prove our concerns to be wrong.

Under the Local Government Act, (section 59) the principal objective of QAC is to achieve its shareholders’ objectives, both commercial and non-commercial, as specified in the SOI. QLDC is the controlling shareholder.

So you have the legal power to set objectives covering the nature and scope of QAC’s activities, among other things, and to set performance targets to ensure QAC meets these objectives.(schedule 8, LGA)

Objectives such as regaining social licence for tourism and operating within existing air noise boundaries, for example.

From what I understand, councillors – as a whole – have not discussed and agreed to your strategic objectives for QAC, this or last term.

Without this guidance, you are setting QAC up to fail in its next draft SOI also.

These objectives should be agreed by councillors before the joint QAC – QLDC steering group starts its work in earnest.

QAC is meant to be a council-controlled trading organisation.  QAC directors and CEO should not even be involved in this discussion.

The need for a majority of councillors to agree to what changes are needed to the SOI was clearly outlined in council’s legal advice from Meredith Connell last September. 

Under recent changes to the LGA, you can also require QAC to produce a long-term plan, asset management plan and climate change mitigation plan.(section 64a, LGA)

All three would seem fundamental strategic business planning documents for an airport company.

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