Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mike Butler: Shameful HB Airport giveaway

The right for claimant group Mana Ahuriri to buy half of the HB Airport as part of its treaty settlement, as reported in the HB Today on Saturday, is the latest of a long line of government blunders over the airport.

Under the deed of settlement, which is still to be ratified by members of Ahuriri hapu, Mana Ahuriri Incorporated's governance body will have the right to elect to buy the 50 per cent stake in Hawke's Bay Airport the Crown owns.

Hapu members have until August 21 to vote to ratify the settlement, which includes $19.5million in cash and assets. Once the settlement is ratified and formalised through legislation due to be passed this year, Mana Ahuriri would be able to use its cash windfall to buy the shares.

The purchase price would be finalised through a detailed valuation process set out in the deed of settlement documents and involving both sides appointing their own valuers to be involved in fixing the price. The airport company's most recent annual report values the total business at $16.7million.

If the airport is important to the Hawke’s Bay economy, why would local and central government think it is a good idea to “sell”, which is more like “give”, half of the airport shares to a private organisation?

The current value of a half-share is $8-million. What would that private company do if it were offered double that amount for their half share? Perhaps they would sell it.

Central government is giving away its 50 percent share of the airport company. The other two shareholders are the Napier City Council (26 percent) and the Hastings District Council (24 percent).

This follows an earlier shameful give-away of a commercial rental by both councils on the 181 hectares of land jointly owned by Hawke’s Bay ratepayers being 80 percent of land used by the airport.

Mayors Lawrence Yule and Barbara Arnott agreed to lease our joint land for 60 +1 years at the princely sum of $1 a year.

They also removed our ability to have any right to buy shares in the airport should they be sold by the Crown as is about to happen.

Residents of Hawke’s Bay like to believe the airport is “our airport” but the people entrusted with its care have given it away.

1 comment:

Philob said...

I do not understand this argument. Why does "sell" = "give"? The Maoris are paying for their shares with money. If their $19.5 million is compensation for unjust historic takings, why does that make it less legitimate? Why should a tribe not be allowed to buy half an airport for fair value?
An unsatisfactory article.