Coffs council hits back at Fraser on Fishos comments

COFFS Harbour City Council has hit-back at comments from MP Andrew Fraser about the future of the beleaguered Coffs Harbour Deep Sea Fishing Club.

The comments were made during a segment on Prime7 news on Friday night, where Mr Fraser called on the council to provide the club with a lease extension on the land through its role as the corporate manager of the Coffs Coast State Park Trust.

"They have the opportunity and they have the authority to extend the lease so the $1.2 million in debts that are there can be paid because we can then get an operator in there," Mr Fraser said.

A statement released by Coffs Harbour Council today said Mr Fraser's comments were "extremely disappointing".

It said the council had asked Crown Lands Minister Niall Blair for authorisation to extend the lease beyond 2021, but authority from the Department of Primary Industries was yet to be received.

It went on to say Mr Blair told the council that unless inappropriate to do so, the lessee must be selected through a competitive tender process.

"The need for a transparent competitive process as best practice in leasing crown land is understood," the statement said.

"It also avoids 'direct dealing' in relation to a commercial lease, which is subject to guidelines issued by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

"Based on this advice council...could not agree to a lease extension beyond its expiry in 2021."

But responding to the statement today, Mr Fraser questioned the logic and again urged the club's current lease to be honoured.

"The current lease is in the name of the fishing club - why do you need to have a commercial tender process for a current lease?", Mr Fraser said.

The council's statement also said aspects of the club's deed of company arrangement had "not (been) able to satisfy all the creditors debts".

"It proposed a compromised settlement where much of the creditors debt would need to be written-off," the council said.

Responding to those comments, Coffs Harbour Deep Sea Fishing Club president Bill Mabey said the full balance of the DOCA would be paid upon receipt of the new lease.

"Mr Fraser is quite correct the council as trustees has the capacity to extend the lease term and I can guarantee that if the lease term was extended the full DOCA amount would be paid immediately by the creditors," Mr Mabey said.

The future of the Coffs Harbour Deep Sea Fishing Club remains a matter for the administrator and creditors with the next meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

The Coffs Coast Advocate has contacted Minister for Crown Lands Niall Blair for comment.

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