Right to Know denied on Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project
Why has the Sunshine Coast Council (SCC) denied the public the right to know what it is doing in up-grading and privatising the airport?
“Council has published a lot of ‘sales pitches’ for the airport expansion but has failed to provide access to vital documents” according to Cheryl Sykes, President of Flight Path Forum.
From 1 December 2017, Sunshine Coast Regional Council (Now SCC) leased the airport to Sunshine Coast Gateway Pty Ltd (SC Gateway C/- Palisade Investment Partners Ltd) who have subleased its management to Sunshine Coast Airport Pty Ltd (SCAPL). The lease is for 99 years to 2116.
“The rent for this community asset is $1.00 plus 5% of the Gross Revenue for each Financial Year but only IF DEMANDED” she said.
“The lease has frequent references to the SCA Framework Agreement, which is obviously a crucial document, but a search of the SCC Minutes has failed to find that it was presented to Council and it has not been published” Ms Sykes said.
“Likewise, a search of the SCC Minutes has failed to find that the following documents were presented to Council or published:
· SCA Runway Project Construction Framework Deed. This is the agreement to undertake the Works that have been entered into between SCC. SC Gateway and SCAPL, pursuant to the terms of the SCA Runway Project Construction Offer Deed.
· SCA Runway Project Construction Offer Deed
· SCA Financier Tripartite Deed between the Airport Lessor (SCC), the Airport Lessee (SC Gateway) and the Airport Manager (SCAPL)
· SCA Share Sale and Purchase Agreement. This “means the share sale and purchase agreement entered into between SCRC and Buyer for the sale and purchase of shares in Airport Manager”.
“Why has SCC withheld all these critical documents which would explain what it is doing in up-grading and privatising the airport?” she said.
The search of the SCC Minutes did identify numerous documents headed CONFIDENTIAL – NOT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE- SUNSHINE COAST AIRPORT – AGREEMENT PERFORMANCE UPDATE and the minutes record that “Council approve the directions proposed in the confidential session…”.
These issues are relevant to changes that have been made over time and yet never disclosed to the public.
“Up until very recently, the existing runway (18/36) was proposed to be used for general aviation, as opposed to commercial passenger aircraft, after the opening of the new runway (13/31). In fact, the Planning and Environment Court was led to believe that general aviation would not be affected by the safety issues with the Parklands Quarry because they would continue to use the existing runway (18/36).” she said.
“Now SCC is saying SCAPL wants
to close the existing runway (18/36) for safety reasons. Further, SCC apparently are saying that SCAPL can do so under the SCA Framework Agreement. Why is SCC denying the community the right to know what is in the SCA Framework Agreement?” Ms Sykes asked.
FPF and its affiliated community groups have previously requested information from Council but were required to pay an upfront cost of over $2000 for the documents.
“If, as the Mayor suggests, this Council believes in transparency, now would be a good time to demonstrate it by providing access to documents related to this community-owned asset”, she said.