Call for Chamber Chairman to Step Aside
Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) has called for the Chamber of Commerce to withdraw its member ‘survey’ and for Chairman Alastair Porter to step aside from Chamber deliberations on all matters relating to the airport.
The call comes from QAC Chairman Mark Taylor who said Mr Porter’s companies, including Remarkables Group Limited (RPL) and Shotover Park Limited (SPL), owned significant land holdings around the airport. Mr Taylor said Mr Porter and his companies were involved in several ongoing disputes with the airport company.
“Mr Porter has a clear conflict of interest, and as a result Chamber members are considering a one-sided, biased and incorrect brief that supports his business interests rather than the interests of the wider Chamber membership. In its current form, this survey has no credibility.”
QAC met the Chamber Board on Monday 21 July and although the Chamber undertook to distribute further information to its members to provide a more balanced view on the deal, it is understood nothing has yet been circulated.
“We are very concerned the business people of this town are being asked to respond to a survey based on that brief. We are even more concerned that we supplied the Chamber with information that corrects many errors and inconsistencies but the Chamber has failed to circulate this despite agreeing to do so. In addition, Mr Porter has persisted in voicing to the news media his opposition to the airport deal, ahead of Chamber members having their say.”
Mr Taylor said Mr Porter’s clear conflict was threatening the credibility of the Chamber as a commercial advocate for Queenstown, and that he had spoken to other Chamber members who shared QAC’s concerns.
“Chamber members expect and deserve a clear and balanced view from the organisation that represents them.”
Mr Porter has been named publicly as a member of the Queenstown Community Strategic Assets Group (QCSAG) formed to oppose the share deal with Auckland Airport.
Mr Taylor said Chamber members needed to realise that QAC was currently involved in protracted negotiations with RPL and Mr Porter over land immediately adjacent to the main runway that QAC considers is required for the appropriate future expansion of the airport. This land was sold to RPL in 1997 in a deal that was facilitated by the then Mayor Warren Cooper, another member of QCSAG.
“This is but one of many conflicts Mr Porter’s RPL has with the airport company. RPL is a current opponent of Plan Change 35 (Noise Boundaries), and has a long history of opposing the Airport’s progress including the Shotover Delta Project, RESA, and Flight Fan amendments.”
Mr Taylor said QAC had had previous concerns about Chamber of Commerce bias during Mr Porter’s tenure as chair. Earlier this year QAC approached the Chamber to submit a supporting submission on Plan Change 35 (relating to Airport air noise boundaries), but the request was declined on the grounds that the matter was ‘political’.
“Extending the noise boundaries to give greater flexibility to airport operations is a matter of utmost importance for many Chamber members,” Mr Taylor said.
“ How can this be deemed “political” and inappropriate for the Chamber to take a view, when it now seems all too keen to attack QAC’s new strategic alliance despite the immense economic benefits it will bring to our region?” Mr Taylor asked.
“Based on all this, we believe Mr Porter has no alternative but to stand down from all Chamber deliberations on matters relating to the airport. Furthermore, the fatally-flawed ‘survey’ should be abandoned and the Chamber should facilitate a more balance and informed discussion among its membership on this matter,” Mr Taylor said.