Letter to the editor: McLeod’s removal from membership group justified [Wanaka Sun, 13/02/20]

[Letter to the editor – Wanaka Sun | 13-19 February 2020 | Edition 961 ]

Last week’s removal of the deputy mayor from the membership of Wanaka Stakeholders Group created a bit of a storm in a teacup. It was necessary housekeeping which we didn’t expect to make front page news, but Calum chose to go straight to the media to complain in open forum.

We joined the conversation online to provide some missing perspective. There were very clear reasons for his removal, and he is well aware of them. Once we shared these reasons, the teacup went calm.

WSG is currently taking QLDC to the high court, to have decisions about Wanaka Airport reviewed. We believe these decisions were unlawful. It doesn’t make sense to for Calum to be a member of a community organisation taking legal action against the council he is deputy mayor of. In fact, that would seem a direct conflict. No other sitting Councillor is currently a member of WSG.

Secondly, Calum was one of the Councillors who privately negotiated the so-called lease of Wanaka airport with QAC. This lease, which is at the centre of our court case with QLDC, was revealed late last year to be effectively a sale of the airport and all its assets to QAC – without consultation or transparency. This is a strategic asset belonging to this community, now in the hands of QAC, and Calum was one of the few people who negotiated these terms. Other Councillors were not shown the detail until the lease was published during last year’s heated election.

Thirdly, Calum has said in public that he signed up to WSG specifically so that he could “see what you are sending to members”.

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. We therefore decided to remove Calum.

Calum, and indeed all Councillors, should be clear about where they stand. To say that he is “neither for nor against” the airport is inconsistent with the fact that he helped negotiate the lease and is now deputy mayor of the pro-airport, pro-growth Council leadership.

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.

Jane Passmore
Committee Member, Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc.

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