Cr Amos will push once again to have the length of the proposed airport lease made public.
Cr Amos will push once again to have the length of the proposed airport lease made public.

'DISAPPOINTING': Bidder declines to reveal lease length

THE company in talks to take over management of Coffs Harbour airport has 'respectfully declined' to reveal the length of the proposed lease.

The news has come as yet another disappointment for Coffs Harbour City Councillor Paul Amos, who has been pushing for greater transparency on the matter.

Cr Amos put forward an amended motion over a month ago that the council ask for permission to make public just how long the lease would be for.

"It's very disappointing. It's about maintaining community confidence and transparency," he told the Advocate.

"When all is said and done, it's the public's asset and a lot of the discussion has taken place in confidentiality. Very little has come out."

Many details, including who the binding bidder for the lease is, remains confidential.

Councillors voted to put the call out for binding bids in November last year, however the tender wasn't release until June.

A council report stated the tender had been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the demise of Tigerair, and Virgin Australia entering into voluntary administration earlier this year.

 

Virgin Australia entering into voluntary administration earlier this year was just one factor that hindered the airport lease tender. Photo: Trevor Veale
Virgin Australia entering into voluntary administration earlier this year was just one factor that hindered the airport lease tender. Photo: Trevor Veale

The council entered into negotiations with the preferred bidder in August, and the matter is expected to soon come back before council one last time where a decision will be made to execute the lease.

Cr Amos - who has previously attempted to have the decision to progress the lease rescinded - expressed frustrations that his request for public transparency was intially denied over a month ago.

The councillor will on Thursday push once again for the information to be revealed to the public immediately - the same motion he put on the table in October before amending it.

Cr Amos had made the amendment saying it was the "polite thing to do" to ask the binding bidder for permission before publicly disclosing the lease length.

"The intent of the original motion was for the information to be made public really quickly - it's been over a month since," he said.

"At this late stage there is no advantage given away by divulging that information."

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Both council staff, council's adviser KPMG Australia and the preferred bidder have all rejected the proposal to reveal the information due to commercial sensitivities.

In their response, the binding bidder stated it did not consider it "appropriate" to publicly disclose details of the potential transaction until it is finalised and signed.

"We are hopeful that this point is only several weeks away," they said.

"We look forward to successfully concluding our negotiations shortly, and working together with council to operate and grow the airport into the future."

The matter is up for discussion at Thursday night's council meeting.