Newcastle 500: Supercars services deed kept secret from councillors

Documents obtained under freedom of information laws show that a 2016 services deed between Supercars and Newcastle City Council was kept secret from councillors.

The deed, which the council’s then interim chief executive officer, Peter Chrystal, signed in December 2016, sets out the rights and obligations of Supercars and its “service provider”, the council. 

“For the avoidance of doubt, and at the request of V8SCA, the Service Provider shall not disclose this Deed to any third party, including, but not limited to, the Councillors of the Service Provider,” the deed reads in part.

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal ordered the council to hand over four documents related to the Newcastle 500 Supercars event to Newcastle East Residents Group in April after NERG had lodged a freedom of information request.

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The council appealed against that decision but supplied NERG with redacted versions of the documents, including the services deed, on the eve of that appeal last month.

NCAT is yet to announce the outcome of the appeal.

The council resolved in July 2016 to enter into a five-year agreement with Destination NSW to host the race on a road circuit and delegated authority to Mr Chrystal to “execute any and all necessary documents”.

Mr Chrystal said on Friday that he could not comment as he was bound by a confidentiality agreement after his departure from the council this year.

Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said she had not seen the services deed.

“Like other councillors, this document was not shared with me by council’s former ICEO, who executed the document,” she said.

“Although a service deed is operational in nature, I expect that future deeds will be shared with myself and all councillors.

“The elected council did, however, determine and discuss the licence agreement.”

Former Greens councillor Therese Doyle, who voted against the July 2016 resolution, said the deed’s secrecy clause demonstrated that councillors had been kept in the dark about details of the race.

“This services deed specifically forbids councillors to know anything about it,” she said. “… It’s an extraordinary document.”

She said the services deed had locked the council into a subservient role to Supercars in the organisation of the event.

Council chief executive officer Jeremy Bath, who was not at the council at the time of the deed, said Supercars’ request for it be confidential was “unsurprising given it’s a standard commercial-in-confidence agreement”.

“It does not involve payment of funds but rather commitments from both parties to maintaining service levels,” he said.

He said it was “up to the event organiser” whether such agreements were shared with councillors. 

The Newcastle Herald contacted Supercars for comment.

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