Why we have removed the deputy mayor from our membership [WSG, 06/02/20]

This week, we wrote to deputy mayor, Calum McLeod, to advise that he was being taken off our membership list. Calum’s response was to take the story to both the ODT and the Wanaka Sun.

This is, as our Chair said to the ODT this week, a bit of a “storm in a teacup”.

… but here’s the detail.

Membership of Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc. is open to those who oppose development of a jet airport in Wanaka and want greater transparency, community involvement and communication from QLDC. We are able to remove any member at any time.

In this case we decided that it doesn’t make sense that the deputy mayor of QLDC (which as an organisation is taking big steps towards development of a jet airport in Wanaka) is a also member of WSG (opposing this development).

Not only was Calum one of the Councillors who privately negotiated the so-called lease of Wanaka airport with QAC (which as we all found out late last year, turns out to be effectively a sale of the airport, a strategic asset belonging to this community, now in the hands of QAC), but he has said in public that he signed up to WSG specifically so that he could “see what we are sending to members”. Neither of those actions are a strong show of support for WSG.

It also makes no sense for Calum to be a member of WSG while he is deputy mayor of QLDC, given the vastly differing views of the two organisations and resulting legal action. WSG is currently taking the Council to the High Court over decisions made in relation to Wanaka Airport, including the so-called lease he was involved in negotiating with QAC. That hearing is likely to take place mid-year.

Finally, it is worth noting that no other sitting Councillor is currently a member of WSG.

If Calum decides in the future to openly and clearly oppose the development of a jet capable Wanaka Airport both via his words and actions, we’d welcome him back as a member.

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