Councillors call for Coffs Airport lease contract length to be made public

Coffs Harbour City councillors are calling for the length of the proposed Coffs Harbour Airport lease contract to be made available to the public. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

THE length of the proposed Coffs Harbour Airport lease contract will soon be made public, if Coffs Harbour City councillors get their way.

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Coffs Harbour City councillor Paul Amos moved a motion at Council’s recent ordinary meeting on Thursday, 8 October for Council to write to the potential lessee of the airport asking for permission to release the length of the lease and option of the airport with an expedited response.

This response is to be reported by Council with a view to providing transparency and confidence to the community.

Cr Amos said at this late stage of negotiations for the Airport lease “the length of the lease should not be commercial in confidence”.

“It’s very important that we give our public some indication, they don’t know whether it’s one year or 100 years, to gauge public opinion to whether they are supportive, not supportive or indifferent,” Cr Amos said.

“The proposed lease length should now be available to the public.

“This disclosure will have no impact on lease negotiations now.”

However, a Council report presented to councillors at the recent meeting stated “the airport lease transaction is at the sensitive stage of negotiation with a preferred bidder”.

“The negotiations and discussions with the Bidder are currently at a commercially sensitive position, and to make any information about the process public now could materially impact CHCC’s commercial position in those negotiations and discussions,” the report stated.

“Council advisors do not recommend the disclosure of partial lease information at this time.”

Council staff recommended Council continue to treat the proposed length of the Airport lease, and all other terms of the transaction, commercial in confidence.

Despite this Council staff report and recommendation, councillors voted unanimously for Council to write to the potential lessee of the airport asking for permission to release the length of the lease and option of the airport with an expedited response, and for the response to be reported by Council with a view to providing transparency and confidence to the community.

 

By Emma DARBIN

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