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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Flying under the radar at Evans Head

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During the latest federal election, Kevin Hogan made a wild promise to give $185,000 of federal money to the new aviation museum at Evans Head if he were elected.

It happened. He was elected, and a beaming Kevin Hogan had his photo taken in the F-111 cockpit when the $185,000 was handed over.

But where did the $185,000 end up? No one seems to know. I lodged a formal GIPA (a type of freedom-of-information search under the Government Information Public Access Act) with Richmond Valley Council and this is their response:

1. How the federal election grant/donation promised by Kevin Hogan of $185, 000 will be apportioned within Richmond Valley Council’s books of account.

Council is not involved in the $185,000 grant and has no information to provide in response to this question.

2. Whether the council’s Real Estate and Infrastructure Reserve will be reimbursed for any of the $250,000 that was paid out of this account under delegation of the general manager for building work carried out to the Bellman hangar at Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome.

No. This is a requirement of the heritage agreement and will be refunded from the sale of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome.

Council has an obligation under the Heritage Agreement to contribute $250,000 to a managed fund. The managed fund is to be handed over at completion of the contract of sale.

3. Whether Mr Peter Lynch/Evans Head Airpark P/L and/or David Lynch Building P/L will be paid any of the $185,000 for reimbursement of costs.

No. This is an obligation under the heritage agreement.

 4. Whether $55,000 will be apportioned to the Bellman hanger for interpretive displays. If not, what amount will the EHMAAHAA museum receive?

The $55,000 is to be paid to the EHMAAHAA museum. Council is not involved in the apportionment of funds.

 5. To be advised how much project management fee has been deducted by David Lynch Building P/L from the money paid by RVC for building works on the Bellman hangar; ie is David Lynch Building P/L earning a percentage of the overall fee, bearing in mind that Mr David Lynch has subcontracted the hangar building works to a Casino-based shed builder.

There is a 10 per cent margin in each invoice from David Lynch Building to the Evans Head Airpark.

 6. Please provide RVC’s advice why it did not call for tenders for the work

Evans Head Airpark organised the works in accordance with the agreement between Council and the airpark.

If the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome, of which the Bellman hangar is a part, has been sold by Richmond Valley Council to a private developer, why has Kevin Hogan donated $185,000 of federal money to private enterprise? Some other questions also need to be asked:

Q1. Why did the general manager of RVC take $250,000 out of the council’s Real Estate and Infrastructure Reserve under his delegated authority, to contribute towards the rebuild of the Bellman hangar if the price had already been agreed for the sale of the aerodrome?

Q2 . Why didn’t the council lodge a development application, as the old hangar was demolished and a mostly different hangar constructed in its place?

The Bellman hangar museum had its official opening on 25 August 2013. Despite being a member of EHMAHAA and having paid my $5 subscription for both last year and this year, I was told I and other association members could not attend the official opening of the museum. I was not welcome! What a way to treat us!

Having made prior criticism of this in a previous letter to the editor, I received a letter from the committee of EHMAHAA telling me I would be expelled from the association if I ever dared to comment like that again!

Margaret Howes, Empire Vale

 


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