Councillor slams ‘culture’ of confidentiality
PAUL Amos has slammed what he described as a "culture" of confidentiality during an impassioned address to fellow councillors.
Cr Amos' strong words came after his second attempt for more transparency on the Coffs Harbour Airport lease was knocked back during last night's Coffs Harbour City Council meeting.
"I'm very disappointed. This is not about whether we sign up to an airport lease or not - it's about the culture of how we do things around here," he said.
"We're dealing with the community's money here … why wouldn't we get our community involved and on board?
"Transparency and community confidence needs to be bolstered."
Council are currently in negotiations with a private company to take over management of the airport under a long-term lease, with all details currently being bound by confidentiality.
In October, Cr Amos put forward a motion that Council ask the company for their permission to make the proposed length of the lease public.
However, the company "respectfully declined," instead stating it would work with the council to co-ordinate a communications strategy releasing the details once the lease had been signed.
At last night's meeting, Cr Amos put forward a motion that Council interrupt the negotiations until the company agreed to provide the community with "meaningful information" as to the proposed length lease and lease option.
"I'm really, really astounded something so benign has been looked at by our potential lessee and they have refused - I'm thinking to myself are they the sort of people we're needing to do business with?
"What's the catch? Why can't they come out and do it?"
Cr George Cecato, who voted against the motion, pointed out that 25 other councils had successfully executed airport leases without releasing information to the public.
"I have checked if there have been any public lynchings when the length of the lease was released, if there was any maltreatment towards the councillors - none of that happened," he said.
"We knew from the beginning it was required from us to be confidential."
During the debate Cr Keith Rhodes, also against the motion, attempted to stop the discussion twice by moving that the motion be put to the vote.
His second attempt was successful, and the motion was defeated.
Councillors Amos and John Arkan voted in favour while Sally Townley, George Cecato, Denise Knight, Tegan Swan, Keith Rhoades and Michael Adendorff voted against.
The results of the lease negotiations are expected to be brought back before the council in coming weeks.