Council: Airport Review Motion Lost

Filed in Recent News by November 25, 2019

THE Council meeting reconvened following a break for the General Manger to identify a source of funding for the motion to have an independent review into the airport project so that the motion for an independent review into the airport project could be put forward and while funding was identified the motion was lost, with only Councillors Sue Abbott and Lee Watts voting for the motion.

The general manager took a short break and identified $40,000 could be used from the project budget for the report.

Cr Abbott said the airport project had not withstood public scrutiny.

Cr Collison spoke against the motion saying there had been enough scrutiny and questioned Cr Abbott if her main concern was the risk.

“My main concern is the community and the community has come to me and expressed their concerns…and yes they are concerned with the risk they may have to carry…”

Cr Collison said Cr Abbott must be speaking to different community members.

Cr Lee Watts said she supported the motion and said the community had made their concerns clear, through the attendance at the meeting, through emails and letters.

Cr Watts said a review did not mean it was a “no” to the project, but a “short pause” to consider the project.

Cr Campbell asked how long the reassessment would take and if it meant all works would stop and all agreements would stop also?

Council staff confirmed the tenders closed in January, so the time frame would be tight.

Cr Campbell asked if it could impact on the scope of the tenders, which staff confirmed it may.

The Mayor asked if the budget accounted for the tenders being delayed and the general manager said there were a number of items which were being costed separately.

Cr Burns excused himself from the meeting for an emergency.

Cr Driscoll asked why this motion did not come through Council sooner?

Cr Abbott explained most of the community came out of the Council meeting in September and it is very evident that the community was concerned and it was appropriate to move the notice of motion, before any contracts were awarded.

The Mayor said he also questioned, “why now?” 

The Mayor said while Cr Abbott kept citing the community, he had the same experience as Cr Campbell, whereby community members he was speaking with were highly positive.

Cr Abbott said she had asked many questions about the project at Council meetings and she had been assured by the general manager that until contracts were awarded there was the possibility for a review.

“I feel this was the last moment for me to put this forward on behalf of the community, who have been in communication with me,” said Cr Abbott.

Cr Brown asked the general manager if the current business plan had covered the social and economic impacts and Council staff said the CAPEX review took six weeks to review the plan.

The general manager said they had used a number of external consultants and said he had never been involved with a project where there was so much due diligence and said he believed the figures would be achieved.

The general manager said he did not make any assumptions, adding there were risk mitigations such as insurance if an air show is cancelled and a staged approach to the building of hangers. 

Cr Brown said he was sympathetic to the call for a review, but conscious of a delay to the project and if an independent report would satisfy the community, if the review came back supporting the review.

Cr Abbott said an external review could allay the communities fears.

Mayor Bedggood said he didn’t think any amount of external review will placate people who had concerns and said the people who didn’t want it to happen won’t feel it’s been adequately addressed.

Cr Abbott said she did not feel the residents who were concerned wanted to stop the project, but were concerned that the proposal risk could be carried by ratepayers.

Earlier in the meeting:

At the beginning of the Council meeting, the Mayor said the motion had to be deferred as Cr Abbott’s motion did not identify a funding source for the review.

Cr Abbott said she had put the motion in one week ago and had not been notified, however the Mayor said it must be adjourned until the next meeting. 

Later in the meeting Cr Brown raised a motion for the General Manager to take 30 minutes to for the general manager to consider the source of funding and to consider the motion at this meeting, citing the code of conduct which stipulates if a motion is to be deferred Councillors should have been advised before the meeting.

When Council reconvened Cr Abbott moved for Council to seek and independent review and not proceed with any external contracts until it had been done and the general manager identified $40,000 could be allocated for the review from the current project budget.

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