WSG writes to Mayor and Councillors: “agreeing to SOI on Monday would be unlawful”

At the “extraordinary” Council meeting planned for this coming Monday, QLDC plans to “agree to” the Statement of Intent from QAC. We’ve written a letter to them this afternoon, advising Councillors that this would be unlawful. Read it here.

The Mayor and all Councillors 
Queenstown Lakes District Council
(By email, individually)

Friday 23rd August 2019

Dear Mayor Boult and QLDC Councillors

  1. We learned yesterday that on the agenda for the QLDC meeting for Monday 26th August is a recommendation to Council to “receive” and “agree” to the modified Statement of Intent (“SOI”) for 2020-2022 for QAC.
  2. We refer to our letter to QLDC of August 7th 2019 (copy here). We have received no reply to it.
  3. In that letter we made our position clear regarding the content of the SOI (refer to paragraphs 2 and 3 in particular). Our position is not changed by the modifications – i.e. by the content of the SOI as modified.
  4. In that letter we also put QLDC on notice of what we consider to be the unlawfulness (and unreasonableness) of actions and decisions to date in relation to existing Wanaka Airport and that WSG would be issuing judicial review proceedings if the matter cannot be resolved satisfactorily.
  5. Regrettably, our communications with you since then make it seem increasingly likely that we will have to issue such proceedings.
  6. We will be writing to you for further documents and information on threshold issues to assess whether proceedings can be avoided.
  7. Any decision by Council to agree to the modified SOI (“SOI Agreement”) will also be unlawful (in breach of the Local Government Act 2002) insofar as:
    1. such SOI Agreement is confirming earlier unlawful decisions and actions which have led to a transfer of some or all of QLDC’s rights to full ownership and control over existing Wanaka Airport, and
    2. such SOI Agreement purports to, or has the effect of, agreeing to decisions and plans of QAC to develop existing Wanaka Airport into a physically expanded and materially different airport (“New Wanaka Airport”) and operate it accordingly.
  8. In the circumstances that prevail, any decisions in relation to existing Wanaka Airport’s future which are affected by the SOI and hence the development, management and operation of New Wanaka Airport are clearly “significant decisions” governed by sections 76, 77, 78, and 82 of the Local Government Act 2002. The SOI process followed by QLDC (and QAC) is in breach of these provisions. 
  9. We also record and reserve our position on the further point that the legal requirements of the Local Government Act 2002 have not been complied with in relation to this “redrafted” SOI and QLDC’s agreement to it is also unlawful for that further reason.  The correct processes and requirements to be followed by QLDC in relation to the SOI have not been correctly followed or understood by Council and/or Messrs Burns and Theelen as reflected in their report for this agenda item. We understand that Mr John Hilhorst will be writing to you in further detail on this aspect.
  10. In addition the “analysis and advice” and suggested “advantages” of Option 1 are wrong and do not address the previous and present unlawfulness of the Council’s decision making.
  11. Completion of the “work to be undertaken” as summarised in paragraph 10 of the Burns/Theelen “recommendation” and noted on page 7 of QAC’s redrafted SOI are neither an effective nor a lawful way of remedying the breaches of the Local Government Act 2002 which have occurred to date in relation to decisions to transfer some or substantially all of QLDC’s rights to full ownership and control of existing Wanaka Airport and to permit its substantial redevelopment and operation as a dual airport with Queenstown Airport. Nor is “the work to be undertaken” an effective or a lawful way to comply with the continuing consultation requirements of the Local Government Act 2002 and its provisions as they govern the SOI process.
  12. If Judicial Review proceedings are issued, this letter will be produced to the High Court in the event that QLDC proceeds to “accept” and/or “agree” the SOI.
  13. Given the situation, and QAC’s part in the SOI process, we have also sent a copy of this letter to the directors of QAC.
  14. As stated in our letter to the Mayor and all Councillors on Wednesday 21st August 2019, all our communications, including this one, will continue to be publicly disclosed. We are dealing with matters of concern to thousands of members of the Wanaka and Upper Clutha communities in particular.  They all have a right to be kept fully and accurately informed. Furthermore, the community has not had the opportunity to have any public debate on these matters. Council has refused our requests for public discussion via further consultative processes or appropriate agenda items.

Yours sincerely

The Committee, Wanaka Stakeholders Group Incorporated*
Per Michael Ross

Cc list: Wanaka Community Board members, CEO QLDC, CEO QAC, Directors QAC (via CEO QAC)

* WSG membership as at 13:50 Friday 23/08/19 stands at 2,499 people.

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