Chamber backs Porter in new war of words with Queenstown Airport

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The local Chamber of Commerce is fighting fire with fire after an attack on its leader by a Queenstown Airport boss. 

Deputy board chairman Miles Wilson is standing by Chamber chair Alastair Porter, who’s been told he should step aside from the battle over the part-sale of the resort’s airport. 

Queenstown Airport Corporation chairman Mark Taylor yesterday claimed Porter has a “clear” conflict of interest, because some of his companies are separately involved in “several ongoing disputes” with QAC. 

The Chamber’s effectively supporting Porter’s business interests instead of the interests of the wider Chamber membership, Taylor says. 

Taylor’s remarks are “a slight on the board members as much as on Alastair”, Wilson says. 

“He’s implying that we don’t have minds of our own and we can’t think independently for ourselves. 

“For a chairman of a high profile, community-owned corporation to speak in those terms I think is quite worrying. It indicates a lack of professionalism…it’s quite out of place. 

“These are times when we should be addressing the issues and not attacking individuals and their personal activities.” 

Before the Chamber waded into the debate, Porter told his board about the perceived conflict, and that he’d sought legal advice from a QC on the matter, Wilson says. 

The board’s fully supportive of Porter remaining as chair, and he won’t be standing aside – “at our urging”. 

The Chamber is fighting any further sale of the local airport after the shock July 8 announcement that Auckland International Airport Ltd bought a 24.99 per cent share for $27.7 million – and it wants an investigation into the secret deal. 

QAC’s presently involved in “protracted negotiations” with Porter’s companies Remarkables Park Ltd (RPL) and Shotover Park Ltd, which own land next to the airport. 

RPL opposes a current QLDC plan change over noise boundaries, plus has also fought the Shotover Delta Project, the runway extension safety area and flight fan amendments, Taylor says.