C'est pire qu'un crime, c'est une faute.

Nuc Korako's #noluggageleftbehind bill not only doesn't do what he says it is meant to do, but it appears that it will do nothing at all. 

As I noted in yesterday's post, Tutehounuku (Nuk) Korako's frankly abysmal members bill - the Airport Authorities (Publicising Lost Property Sales) Amendment Bill - is being misrepresented by its author. It simply doesn't do what he says it will do.

  • It doesn't "empower" the airports to more widely advertise the fact they are going to auction off lost property. They already are permitted to use any means that they want to do so - it's just that one of those means must be an ad in the local paper.
  • It doesn't help to reunite passengers with their lost luggage because: (i) lost luggage is an airline issue, not an airport issue; and (ii) all the airport has to do is advertise that it is holding a lost property auction, not specify what property is being auctioned by it.

So Mr Korako seems oddly confused about an issue that he claims to be "passionate" about - indeed, he doesn't seem to understand what it is his proposed bill will even do.

Furthermore, now that I've done a bit more digging, it turns out that not only is this bill not going to do what he says it will, but it is completely pointless as well. Here's why.

Remember what his proposal is - to remove the requirement in the existing s.9(1)(ff) for airport authorities to advertise lost property auctions in the newspaper. But also note what s.9(1)(ff) says. It says authorities can make bylaws that provide for the treatment of lost property and to allow for it to be auctioned off. It doesn't say that they must have such bylaws in place.

So, I thought to myself, how many airports actually do have such a bylaw? Because if they don't have one, then Mr Korako's proposed change is irrelevant to their practice.

(Note also that even if Mr Korako's proposed change was enacted, it still would be irrelevant to airports with bylaws in place unless and until they have these updated. Changing the wording of the parent act doesn't automatically change the bylaws made under it.)

From what I can find, it turns out that only Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown Airports have bylaws in place that permit them to sell lost property by auction. Dunedin, Hawkes Bay, Nelson, Palmerston North and Wellington Airports don't. So at the moment, only three of those eight airports are suffering under the hardship of having to put an ad in the local paper before they can auction off lost property.

Three out of eight.

But still, those are three pretty big airports! It must be a real pain in the neck for them to have to put ads in the local paper every time that they want to hold an auction!! Surely freeing them from this impedimentary shackle is an act any MP would be proud to regard as a capstone to their political career!!!

Maybe. But let's go back and have a look at what the current practice is. Here's what Auckland Airport's bylaw 12 reads (the bylaws for Christchurch and Queenstown are pretty much worded the same):

(4) The Company may, from time to time, sell by public auction any property that has remained unclaimed after being held by the Company for not less than 3 months.

(5) Before any property is sold by auction the Company shall advertise its intention to hold the auction twice in a newspaper circulating within the Auckland region, the second advertisement to be published at least 14 days and not more than 21 days before the date appointed for the sale.

So this is an empowering measure - Auckland can auction off lost property if it wants to do so. But it doesn't have to auction it off if it doesn't want to! 

Then we find this news item via Newshub from back in 2012:

They may have their minds on sun-drenched beaches or be rushing to catch flights, but it seems travellers are a forgetful bunch if the lost property picked up at Auckland Airport is anything to go by.

A team from the Auckland City Mission heads out to the airport every Friday to collect bags and bags of what's been left behind in the terminals.

Clothing, umbrellas, bags, suitcases, blankets, food items, pushchairs, toiletries, walking sticks, pillows and cooking utensils are among the items the charity collects.

A spokesman for Auckland Airport says the mission can sometimes take away a vanload of up to 10 jumbo-sized rubbish bags full of booty.

City Mission spokesman James Holt says the donated clothing is given to homeless clients or to families when they come for help in emergencies.

Any excess goods are sold in its second-hand stores.

So it seems that Auckland Airport doesn't actually auction off lost property (even though it could do so). Meaning that it doesn't have to put any notices in the local paper at all before disposing of that lost property. Meaning that travellers who may have left that property at the airport have no way of knowing that it is being disposed of - and Mr Korako's bill will not change this one iota.


All of which makes me think, do any airports in NZ actually auction off lost property? Or do they follow Auckland's lead in donating it to charity? Because if that is the case, then Mr Korako's bill not only will not achieve what he says it will, but it will literally achieve nothing at all. All at the cost of several hours of parliamentary time and effort that could be spent on something much more valuable.

There's one more point before I drop this. It turns out that the Ministry of Transport has, for the last couple of years, been running a review of the Airport Authorities Act 1966 and whether it needs updating. It tells us that "feedback received will inform advice provided to Cabinet on potential changes to [that Act]."

It also appears that there were 31 submissions to the review's consultation document. So I've put in an OIA to find out how many of those submissions mention the s.9(1)(ff) requirement to advertise lost property auctions in the newspaper. Because if this really is an important issue that has been repeatedly raised with Mr Korako (as he claims is the case), then surely a substantial number of them will.

Indeed, given Mr Korako's allegedly "passionate" feelings about this issue, I assume one of the submissions to that review will be from him - and his concerns will feature strongly in it. Otherwise one might be forgiven for suspecting that he is misrepresenting his level of interest in this matter somewhat.