6 points we challenge emphatically from just one of Mr Boult’s ad paragraphs

Yesterday, Mr Boult published a full page election campaign advert asking you to vote for him. We don’t have the time or resource to analyse the whole thing. But have looked closely at the Airport content. In just one paragraph where he talked about Wanaka Airport, there are at least six key points we challenge, and can easily back up. They are below.

We believe that it is wrong that during an election these statements are left unchallenged.

“I’ve given you my word, domestic flights will not be reintroduced at Wanaka Airport unless that is desired by the Upper Clutha community.”

  • Mr Boult, how can you “give your word” when you have no significant control mechanisms in place over QAC?
  • We’ve asked you many times, including in writing, to identify these control mechanisms (promised to the Upper Clutha community some time ago when first proposing a lease of Wanaka Airport), and they are clearly not in place.

“The social and economic impact studies [will] also look at all environmental impacts.”

  • In Council’s announcement about these studies (on 8th August 2019, read by you), the only mention of environmental factors was in relation to QAC’s sustainability practices at an operational level. You did not announce any in-depth environmental impact reports.
  • Your RFP document (C-19-096) is a 23 page document containing tens of thousands of words. It mentions the environment once, and only in relation to the Social Impact Report.
  • Your RFP document does not include a standalone environmental impact report, and certainly does not cover “all environmental impacts.”
  • We have raised this with you in writing more than once as being a significant issue.
  • Only now during the election have you elevated the importance of environmental impacts, but it is unclear what the terms of reference for this would be.
  • We are not aware of the Council having discussed or agreed to an assessment of “all environmental impacts”, so it appears that this is a unilateral announcement by you as part of your election campaign.

“If the Upper Clutha community doesn’t want [certain flights], it will not happen.”

  • Again, how can you promise this Mr Boult, when you have no control mechanisms over QAC in place (as promised to the community).

“Currently there’s vocal opposition from some community members, but I’m personally hearing from many who support the proposal.”

  • “Some members of the community” currently weighs in at over 3,000 signed-up members of Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc – the largest group to ever form in the area around a single issue.
  • When you consider the population of the Upper Clutha region is approx. 12,500, and that approx. 19% are not adults, that’s a bit more than “some” of the adult residents of your Upper Clutha constituency.
  • We are backed up and supported by four community associations which between them represent 3,500 residents.
  • We also refer you to the overwhelming community dissatisfaction with Wanaka Airport matters as evidenced in the Crux airport survey.
  • WSG represents 468 local business owners, and approximately 50% of those answering the Crux survey were local business owners.
  • It is disingenuous to try to marginalise or downplay the concerns of a very large slice of the community, and you have been doing this for quite some time.

“[…] there’s no intention to use Wanaka Airport for International Flights.”

  • Again, this is not something you have control mechanisms in place to guarantee.
  • QAC has also stated publicly (including in the ODT and NZ Herald on 1 May 2019) that international flights were “on the table”. Prior to the election, you had not negated this.
  • This statement has been repeated many times online and in media, and QAC has not withdrawn it.
  • QAC has stated emphatically that flight services would be “dictated by the airlines”.
  • You know as well as we do that as soon as a jet capable airport is built, and “airline demand” builds, international flights are absolutely a possibility.

“[…] airlines would not fly Wanaka-Auckland in a turbo-prop/ATR.”

  • Again, you have no control mechanisms in place, and so cannot promise this.
  • Air New Zealand has not stated this position in public – rather, it was an ex Air New Zealand executive who is now a director of QAC (and is therefore presumably pro jets in Wanaka).
  • Even if Air New Zealand cannot or will not fly ATR’s to Auckland, this statement defies logic in that …
    • Other airlines might, now or in the future.
    • Who says the Upper Clutha community wants a direct jet service to Auckland, or wants it enough to have to open the floodgates to jets?
    • How do you explain that ATRs are routinely used in other countries over similar or greater distances?
    • Why should “airline demand” dictate what sort of airport development (if any) we have in our community?

We are not expecting any answers from you on the points above, Mr Boult, as we don’t believe you are able to answer our challenges. But we also don’t believe that you can make the promises you’ve made in your advert, because you just can’t keep those promises.

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