Councillors who question – progress being made around the QLDC table

Council meeting, 15 Dec 2022

We Love Wakatipu commentary, 15 December 2022

Wow, what a refreshing change!

To the casual observer, it may seem a small win – the majority of councillors today agreed to table until March a draft manual about how to govern Queenstown Airport Corporation. 

But in the wake of the past four years, it was a significant win for our community and democratic process.

We heard our new councillor team question an inadequate draft governance manual prepared by the same executive and legal team responsible for the QAC governance agenda items of the past term.

They pushed back against pressure to just accept it as a “living document,” on the premise it would be workshopped if required on an annual basis.

They insisted on a commitment to and timeframe for meaningful discussion to give truth to the “living document” label.

And all councillors but for Mayor Glyn Lewers and Wānaka’s Lyal Cocks and Barry Bruce agreed to Cr Esther Whitehead’s motion, seconded by Cr Matt Wong, that they should table rather than accept the flawed draft. 

On Monday, the draft manual called for by councillors almost a year ago to guide their QAC governance cycle was finally published in council’s agenda for today’s meeting.

On Wednesday morning, we sent our analysis of the draft to all councillors, pointing out flaws we recognised from four years’ research and discussion with senior lawyers well-versed in the Local Government Act. You can read our comms with councillors here.

And today, WLW chair Cath Gilmour precised this into the allowed three-minute public forum slot. You can read her presentation here.

Several councillors spoke at the meeting of their unease with agreeing to an unclear document they had not had adequate time to discuss or consider. They spoke of the need to reflect and learn on the process as they go through it over the next few months.

Cr Whitehead said it had “come a long way since Friday,” when councillors first saw it, “but it would be nice to give it more oxygen around the table.” We agree some improvements had been made in the draft manual tabled today – but more are needed. 

We congratulate the eight councillors who recognise the need for their active engagement and intelligent questioning of airport governance. Thank you.

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