No clear option to close airport

MARYBOROUGH Airport cannot be closed or sold by the council unless the Federal Government agrees – and then the council must pay 50 per cent of the net proceeds to the government.

In a hard-fought battle, Col Miller of Maryborough Aviation Services, who has been fighting for a long-term lease from the council for 12 years, last week managed to get hold of a copy of the 22-year-old transfer agreement between Maryborough council and the Federal Government.

“I had to apply for it under the Right to Information laws because they refused to give it to me but the result makes it worthwhile,” Mr Miller said.

“The deed gives them no clear option to close down the airport.

“Instead it contains clear directions that the council must operate and maintain the aerodrome as a licensed aerodrome open to the public use.

“It also says the council must ‘prevent future residential and other incompatible development in areas which may be affected by aircraft noise’.”

The deed tells the council it can lease or licence parts of the aerodrome not affected by aircraft movement “for periods up to five years” – yet business people like Mr Miller have been unable to secure medium to long-term leases while others cannot get any leases at all.

If the Transport Minister agrees to the council selling the airport, it either has to pay back 50 per cent of the net proceeds, or spend the total proceeds on “specific aerodrome maintenance or development works approved by the Secretary and without provision of Commonwealth grants”.

Col Miller and his aviation business colleagues are meeting with mayor Mick Kruger on Friday.

“I look forward to doing exactly what he once said – that is working with this council towards a closer relationship with the aviation industry on the Fraser Coast – and I certainly will be drawing his full attention to this deed.”

At the time of the transfer the assets were valued at $387,863 by the government.

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