Coffs Harbour Airport. Photo: Trevor Veale
Coffs Harbour Airport. Photo: Trevor Veale

Crs push for end to secrecy on length of airport lease

COUNCILLORS have voted unanimously in a bid to provide more transparency to the public on the divisive airport lease.

Coffs Harbour City Councillor Paul Amos put forward a motion at last night’s meeting calling for the council to ask the potential lessee to publicly release the proposed length of the lease.

“I think it’s very important we give our public some indication - they don’t know whether we’re doing a deal for them on their behalf for one year or 100 years,” Cr Amos said.

“We just need to gauge the community feel as to whether they’re supportive, not supportive or indifferent to the term we might be looking at.”

Cr Amos has initially intended to move a motion calling for the council to release the confidential information immediately.

However, following a response from council staff and the council’s advisor KPMG Australia, Cr Amos said asking the potential lessee first was the “polite thing to do.”

They had raised concerns that making the information public at this point would impact on the council’s commercial position in the negotiations.

“I’m only too happy for this to now go back to the people we’re having discussions with,” Cr Amos said.

“In hindsight I think we potentially should have given some parameters for our negotiations.”

This latest push for transparency comes after Cr Amos, Cr John Arkan and Cr Tegan Swan called on the council to investigate the possibility of a 50-year lease option last month.

The three councillors wanted to have the decision to progress the airport lease to the negotiations stage reversed to allow for these investigations, stressing that they believed council was not getting “a good deal.”

The rescission motion was lost following the mayor’s casting vote.

The result of the negotiations with the preferred bidder is expected to come back before council in coming weeks.