Even the most vocal of city councillors are tight-lipped over the future of the Douglas Aerospace hangar for fear of jeapordising negotiations with airliner Regional Express (Rex).
It was announced on Friday that Rex had come to the rescue of council and its troubled asset, with a view to sign a long-term lease of the aircraft painting and refurbishment facility situated at Wagga Airport.
An end to the long-running saga appears to be in sight.
However, questions persist over the terms of an agreement with Rex and how much of a $2 million loan to Douglas Aerospace will be recovered.
Council is still to undertake remaining works at the facility before it is transferred to Rex.
Wagga mayor Rod Kendall could not shed any light on negotiations due to commercial-in-confidence, but pointed to a media release that said Wagga owed a “debt of gratitude” to Rex for its investment in Wagga.
Councillor Julian McLaren, who three years ago as president of the Wagga Chamber of Commerce opposed the loan to Douglas Aerospace, said there was little he could say as negotiations with Rex continued.
“Hopefully they are going to get us out of the very average situation,” he said.
“There’s still a fair way to go … a lot of stuff is going on behind the scenes.”
Cr McLaren said he hoped the controversy would encourage future councils to steer clear of loaning to private enterprise.
“There’s lessons to be learnt in all of this,” he said.
Councillor Paul Funnell similarly could not talk in detail due to commercial-in-confidence, but said councillors had since been briefed about the negotiations after first learning that Douglas Aerospace had come out of administration through the media and community members.
“We’ve since been notified in some detail,” he said.
“It’s tied up in commercial negotiations at the moment, but we’re all trying to get the best outcomes for the city of Wagga.”
Douglas Aerospace owner Doug Clarke was not available for comment on Monday and is not expected to be back at work until later this month.
Wagga City Council general manager Phil Pinyon, mayor Rod Kendall and Rex’s general manager of engineering Dale Hall will front the media on Tuesday morning to address questions.
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