Airport deal suppression

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A key document in the controversial Queenstown Airport share deal has been suppressed. 

Soon after July’s announcement of Auckland International Airport snapping up a 24.99 per cent stake for $27.7 million, Mountain Scene appealed to Ombudsman David McGee for the release of the sale-and-purchase agreement. 

The newspaper made the appeal after Queenstown Airport Corporation refused to release the agreement. 

McGee now advises his hands are tied by an August 24 order made by Justice Christine French in a preliminary High Court hearing. 

The hearing relates to actions against Queens-town’s council by Air New Zealand and the Queens-town Community Strategic Assets Group. Both want to stymie the airport deal, which includes an option for Auckland to increase its stake to 35 per cent of the council-owned airport. 

McGee says French’s court order bars disclosure of unknown documents included in an affidavit filed by Assets Group chairman John Martin. One document “contains commercially sensitive information and includes express confidentiality provisions … and was leaked presumably in breach of those obligations”, French says. 

McGee says the airport agreement Mountain Scene asked for is among barred material so he can’t release it, whilst Martin says he can’t comment on the banned documents, nor how he obtained them. 

The suppressed paperwork is likely to remain secret until after the lawsuits and may be sealed permanently afterwards.