Keith Willliams, Ballina councillor and mayoral candidate
Ballina’s mayor for the last four years, David Wright, has a secret agenda to privatise the Ballina-Byron Airport if re-elected.
I am receiving a lot of feedback on voters’ concerns about the possible sale or long-term (50 year) lease of the airport. People are heartedly sick of governments at all levels flogging off assets to pay the bills.’
The airport is as vital to the town now as the sea port was 100 years ago. This is a valuable community asset, which drives significant economic growth in the shire through tourism and enabling people who still have ties in Sydney and Melbourne to consider living here.
Cr Wright’s repeated denials that he has any plans to privatise the airport are at odds with his actions. He pushed for the council to spend $110,000 on a privatisation scoping study. He’s the one that’s pushed for the council to change its successful investment strategy on the airport.
Since its founding, the council has pursued a ‘growth’ investment strategy, sinking profits back into the airport and offering airlines discounted landing fees to bring in more planes. This strategy has worked, with state and federal governments pumping $10 million in funding into the airport in the last year alone. This funding will dry up if the airport is privatised.
However, when the council considered the airport privatisation scoping study at the July Council meeting, Cr Wright pushed for the council to change from ‘growth’ to pursue an ’investment readiness’ strategy: to fatten the calf up for sale.
David Wright can deny it all he likes, but his actions speak far louder than his words.
In public hands, all the profit and the funding from state and federal government is returned to this community. If it’s privatised we’ll be exporting profits from the pockets of locals to the pockets of investment bankers.
People want the airport to remain in public hands. People who live in the flight path want to know that their interests are kept in mind. They want decisions about the future of the airport to be made locally, not in some boardroom in Sydney.