Submission on QAC Statement of Intent (SOI), QLDC June 30, 2021 meeting

By Cath Gilmour, We Love Wakatipu Inc chair

Kia ora councillors and thank you for all your work.

You know now that contrary to information in today’s agenda, you do not need to agree to this SOI for QAC to be legally compliant.  It already is, whether you agree to it, table it or reject it.

And again, contrary to the information in your agenda for the past three years, the purpose of local government is to enable democratic action and promote the four community well-beings – not provide cost-efficient infrastructure.

In other words, today’s report recommends you agree to an SOI justified by a totally different purpose to why you were elected to sit around this table.

Mr Theelen, in his response to my official complaint about the false information in today’s agenda, told me that that is okay, this analysis still stands true.

This beggars belief. Council’s actual purposes are not even mentioned.  Much less analysed.

I acknowledge that this SOI is better written than previous ones. It even gives a nod to local government’s actual purposes – which, as a council-controlled trading organisation, QAC is meant to achieve.

But at its core, the SOI wrongfully gives your governance role to QAC.

It justifies doing so by a narrative that morphs community well-being into meeting airline demand and creating long-term value for shareholders, business partners and, last in line, communities.

This false narrative has been perpetuated by three years of hands-off, growth-focussed governance, justified by targeting the fundamentally wrong purpose.

I will concentrate on the components of this SOI most damaging to both our democracy and our wellbeing:

  1. Continued insistence on potential growth of the air noise boundary. The SOI only commits to not doing so until July 1, 2022 – or perhaps 2025.
  2. QAC’s 10-year strategic plan being written by QAC, with no guaranteed council strategic input and just “having regard for feedback” from shareholders. This is legalese for “feel free to ignore”. There is zero community input or visibility – ever.
  3. The loss of council sign-off on airport master planning. Seeking council endorsement and having regard to feedback again is licence to ignore. Community consultation won’t take place until after this plan is produced.  Consultation works when it helps design the ship, not tries to turn around the juggernaut once launched.
  4. This same simile applies to QAC rewriting its constitution – with no process identified or council strategic input. You, as our elected representatives, must have more real input than final sign off.

Remember both your and QAC lawyers told the High Court that council had “total control” over QAC through the SOI. The judge still overturned council’s illegal Wanaka airport lease – because of poor process and inadequate consultation.

It’s time to stop the resultant downward spiral in community trust and claim back governance control. 

This is your role – not the executive team’s and not the QAC board’s.

Please, reject the SOI, make the necessary changes and stop the erosion of our communities’ well-being and democracy.

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