Last month the member’s bill of Nuk Korako, a National Party list MP, was drawn from the ballot. The Airport Authorities (Publicising Lost Property Sales) Amendment Bill will replace, in relation to the advertisement of lost property auctions: “the insertion of suitable advertisements in a newspaper circulating in the district where the airport is situated” with “publicising the sale in what the authority considers to be a fair and reasonable manner”.
The Bill is unnecessary
The explanatory note to the Bill says that it “would allow authorities to use modern means of communication as well as future, unforeseen, means of communications as the airport authority may determine fit.” This isn’t true. The current Airport Authorities Act does not restrict airports from advertising any auction in new media. If airports wanted to advertise their auctions on their website, Facebook, or Snapchat, there would be nothing stopping them.
The Airport Authorities Act only provides a suggested template for what airports may wish to include in any bylaws they create. The Act states:
any local authority or airport authority may, in respect of the airport which it operates, make such bylaws as it thinks fit for all or any of the following purposes:
(ff) providing for the establishing and maintaining of facilities at the airport for the reception and storage of lost property, and, after the insertion of suitable advertisements in a newspaper circulating in the district where the airport is situated, providing for the sale by way of auction of any such property that is unclaimed after being held by the authority for not less than 3 months:
provided that in the case of lost property which is perishable or valueless the bylaws may provide for the disposal of the property in such manner as may be determined by the authority
This does not mean that airports must have this as a bylaw. Many airports do not have any bylaws at all. Hawke’s Bay Airport has a lost property bylaw, however it only requires that those finding lost property hand it in.
It follows that if an airport does have a clause requiring the advertising of a lost property auction in a local newspaper, for example, Auckland International Airport, amending the Airport Authorities Act will not change that bylaw. The airport would have to have the bylaw changed, which could happen even if Mr Korako’s Bill does not pass.
Airport lost property auctions are rare and advertising them is free
I asked eight airports how much money they spent on advertisements for lost property auctions within the last year. Of the six that replied, only one airport, Dunedin Airport, has held an auction and placed an advertisement for it in the last year. The cost to them? $0. The Otago Daily Times doesn’t charge them.
The responses from the airports are below this post.
Airports don’t care
Airports don’t have an issue with this part of the Airport Authorities Act. The Ministry of Transport did not receive any submissions on this part when they were reviewing airport legislation.
In any case, minor and technical changes to acts can be made through the annual Statutes Amendment Bill.
To be fair, Mr Korako isn’t solely to blame. Minister Simon Bridges had the opportunity to include this Bill as part of the Ministry of Transport’s review of the Airport Authorities Act, but chose not to. It’s more convenient for the government that Mr Korako’s bill reduces the chance an opposition member’s bill will be drawn.
A similar bill that should be included in the Statutes Amendment Bill instead of taking up Parliament resources is Matt Doocey’s Companies (Annual Report Notice Requirements) Amendment Bill which also was recently introduced to Parliament.
The government wants to block bills from opposition members that might make them confront difficult issues that aren’t on their agenda. This Bill is a waste of Parliament’s time and resources, and as Andrew Geddis said, we, as New Zealanders, deserve better.
Queenstown Airport has a bylaw that covers lost property, however it has not held an auction within the last year, instead it has donated property to the Salvation Army. The property was not of significant value and included: second-hand clothing, sunglasses, reading glasses and books.
Christchurch International Airport
Christchurch International Airport has a bylaw that covers lost property, however the airport has not placed any lost property auction advertisements within the last year.
Dunedin Airport is the only airport that replied that has placed an advertisement for a lost property auction within the last year. They are not charged for placing the advertisements, which run in the Otago Daily Times.
Their policy is to advertise lost property twice in the Otago Daily Times with all property being held for at least three months before being auctioned. Any remaining property is donated to charity. Any valuable item or identity documents are handed to the airport police
The Airport provided an example of an advertisement they have recently run.
Invercargill Airport has not placed an advertisement for a lost property auction within the last year. They donate lost property to charity or give it to the police.
Invercargill Airport does not have a bylaw relating to lost property. They have a lost property policy from 2012, and a draft replacement policy written in 2015 that has not been approved.
Hokitika Airport has not received any lost property since 2002. They have no written policy on lost property. In practice, any lost property is handed to Air New Zealand staff as it likely belongs to one of their passengers or someone accompanying one of their passengers and Hokitika Airport staff are not present at the airport on a regular basis.
Hawke’s Bay/Napier Airport
Hawke’s Bay Airport has a bylaw relating to lost property, however the bylaw does not cover the disposal or auction of that property.
They have not placed an advertisement for a lost property auction within the last year.
Auckland and Wellington International Airports
Auckland and Wellington airports are not subject to the Official Information Act. Auckland International Airport reportedly donates at least some lost property to charity. Wellington International Airport passes valuables to the police.
Nelson and Palmerston North Airports
Nelson and Palmerston North airports did not respond to an Official Information Act request within the statutory timeframe.
Image credit: Monika