Last night’s Coffs Harbour City Council meeting again ended up split four-four on a contentious issue that the Mayor again used her casting vote to break.
By The Editor
This time the issue was whether to progress on with the proposed 99 year lease of the Coffs Harbour Airport, which is effectively a form of privatisation although land ownership would remain with the CHCC.
Council was given the Coffs Harbour Regional Airport in 1984,when the Commonwealth Department of Transport transferred ownership under the Airport Local Ownership Plan.
As part of that agreement, the airport was upgraded to F28 jet standard in 1986. Council became responsible for all the development and operational costs of the airport when the Commonwealth discontinued the Airport Local Ownership Plan in 1991.
Last night Councillors had to consider tender bids for the lease.
Unfortunately we as ratepayers don’t know what the bid amounted to because much of the hearing on it was ‘in camera’ due to ‘commercial in confidence’ considerations.
As an aside we would argue that the term ‘Commercial in Confidence’ represents quite possibly the three most ‘weasely’ of all cojoined ‘weasel words’ these days.
What we are pretty sure of however is that there were a minimal number of bids. Possibly as low as just one.
We know anecdotally that some Councillors were surprised at how ‘good the bid was’.
We don’t know if that was good as in ‘good in today’s circumstances.’
Or good as in ‘good enough for us to consider rezoning.’
Or good as in ‘good let’s take some quick cash now, we need it for the CCS because we can’t sell anything else’.
Or all the above. Take your pick.
There might even be some other things we haven’t thought of.
What we do know is that Councillors Amos, Arkan, Swan and Townley were underwhelmed by what they saw and that Councillors Addendorf, Ceccatto, Knight and Rhoades were in the ‘it’s a good bid’ camp.
Yes, four-four. Again.
And yes Mayor Knight voted against Speaker Dennison’s long standing rule regarding status quo convention. Again.
Here is last night’s Prime 7 News report on the airport motion before Council; https://www.prime7.com.au/news/29059-airports-future
We also know that there is evidence aplenty worldwide that shows when a public monopoly is privatised the privatised monopoly gouges its captive market.
What the ratepayers of the LGA’s affected by the potential sale may come to think of all this will be historically interesting but possibly all too late. And that is because the Coffs Harbour Regional Airport serves Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Nambucca and lower Clarence Valley Council citizens.
It must be comforting for the denziens of those four LGA’s to know that four Coffs Harbour Councillors can effectively make decisions on their behalf in regards to their future air transport costs and options.
We have been informed that a recission motion has been lodged in regard to the motion passed on the Mayor’s casting vote last night and that it is due to be heard at the next CHCC meeting on Thursday 10 September.
We will endeavour to keep you up to date on any ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ between then and now.