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Rex agreement remains secret

Monday, 13th July, 2015

A tribunal has ruled that an agreement between REX airlines and City Council was not in the public interest and will not be revealed. A tribunal has ruled that an agreement between REX airlines and City Council was not in the public interest and will not be revealed.

By Michael Murphy

An agreement between REX airlines and City Council will largely remain secret after a tribunal has ruled that it was not in the public interest to reveal it.

Barrier Daily Truth sought access to information relating to the deal struck between the parties last year, but NCAT’s ruling recognised that releasing information specific to the agreement would give REX’s and Council’s competitors an unfair advantage.

The tribunal did order the release of some documents, one of which outlines what Council wanted from REX out of the deal.

In the document, Council told Rex it wanted two things: “better access to Sydney for business undertakings” and “increased travel to Broken Hill by visitors”.

Council suggested:

* Improved scheduling to allow increased business travel from Broken Hill

* Commitment by Rex to promote Broken Hill as a destination

* Consideration of “joint leveraging activities”

* Introduction of a strategy to be developed by REX in consultation with Council to increase passenger numbers.

REX clearly wanted to pay less passenger tax at the airport, after calling Council “greedy” for proposing to increase it.

When the deal was finally reached, no information about how much REX would pay to use the airport was publicly released.

In ordering the release of some information, tribunal member Julie Kinross weighed up reasons for and against disclosure, including a review of articles submitted by the BDT about the falling out between REX and Council last year.

“... Council and REX were prepared to disclose information that could be argued (as) commercial-in-confidence information to the media and used direct contact with constituents to harness popular support for their respective positions and or pressure the other party,” said NCAT senior member Julie Kinross in her ruling.

REX strongly objected last year to a Council proposal to increase passenger tax at the airport from $12 to $12.30. 

Council and REX then struck the secret deal, which sees REX paying less than $12 per passenger.

Council revealed in March this year, that if the charge of $12 was restored, it would provide an extra $43,000 to the city’s coffers for 2015/2016.

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