WSG Responds to the Wanaka Sun’s Questions

The editor of the Wanaka Sun, Emma Conyngham, asked the Wanaka Stakeholders Group to respond to three specific questions about decisions made during the recent council meeting. Our full replies, provided by Michael Ross, Chair of the WSG, are below.

1. Do you think the feedback and criticism from QLDC to Colin Keel at the council meeting was strong enough to effect change?

I thought that it was good for Mr Keel to see first hand a reflection of the strength of feeling in the community. But will it be enough to effect change?

Mr Keel stated that the company had a legal obligation to respond to the demand for flights into Queenstown. He was saying to us that regardless of the community concerns for growth – he was intending to build to accommodate the forecast demand.

So does WSG expect to see a change? No we don’t – unless QLDC RESOLVES to impose limits within which QAC is required to plan and operate. And WSG believes that this should EXCLUDE Jets from future planning for Wanaka.

2. Why do you think they voted to accept the SOI with so many apparent questions and criticisms?

The Councillors were advised by the Mayor that Council HAD to adopt the SOI prior to July 1st. The meeting to receive the SOI was held on June 27th and so the Council felt pressured to adopt the document.

Effectively the QAC knows it currently has NO strategic direction approved by Council. The question is when will this will be resolvedI? I hope I am wrong – but my guess is after the elections! 

Under the legislation there it is a responsibility for the the CCTO Board to consider any comments on the Draft Statement of Intent made by the Council.  Comments on the Draft SOI were made by Council back in April.

Clearly the final version the Councillors were asked to approve did not match their expectations. They felt that the QAC Board had not taken due notice of their feedback – and this was the source of QAC’s very public undoing at the Council meeting. Council always has the ultimate sanction and can by resolution require the Board to modify the SOI and any Board who is given such notice “must comply” with the resolution.

3. Council asked for more transparency and accountability as to their plans; what does this transparency and accountability look like for the WSG?

In our experience there has been little Transparency and Accountability exhibited to date.

QAC conduct what I would describe as selective consultation. They consult with a select few – and refused our request in writing to attend the last Community Liaison meeting held at the Edgewater Hotel. Each request for information from QAC has also been refused. We were refused a copy of their Application for Requiring Authority Status. We have been refused a copy of the QAC 100 Year Lease and also information relating to flightpaths. Even Councillors have had their requests for information declined – as highlighted by Councillor Quentin Smith during the Council meeting.

We have had one meeting with the company which was valuable for us and we would like to think that as a Council owned company with a future dependant on its long term relationship with the community – then it would be falling over backwards to engage with everyone. And remember – there will be a number of new Councillors after the election – and we will be seeking assurances from them prior to the election that they will be ensuring our Community that the company is indeed held to account.

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