AGL’s chairman has admitted their approach to buying back Bogong Village underleases has not been appropriate, as cabin owners continue to seek answers on the company’s plans.
Shareholder Liz Krien asked Graeme Hunt at last week's AGM why AGL was pressuring underlessees to surrender their interest in the village “for an insulting one-price-fits-all cabins and give no explanation whatsoever to why this was being done”.
Mr Hunt said AGL was trying to “return the village to the people of Victoria”.
“The board is not suggesting at all that a one-size-fits-all approach is appropriate, and we very much want to have engagement with individual leaseholders to seek to find an appropriate way forward,” he said.
A Wimmera resident who travelled six hours to be at the AGM raised concern about the negotiations and said under previous state government management, there was limited accessibility to Bogong for the public.
“It was not possible for anyone other than SECV (State Electricity Commission of Victoria) employees at the top level to go and stay at those houses,” she said.
“The arrangement that has been at Bogong Village for the last 20 years, whereby there are lease holders (who) rent those houses out for most of the year … means anybody can go and stay.
“I personally am concerned AGL thinks buying the underleases out will then return it to the people of Victoria.
“The current situation enables that.”
It wasn’t until the village was opened to the public 20 years ago that the questioner had been able to visit her childhood home – her father had worked on construction of the Kiewa hydro scheme.
Mrs Krien said she would follow up on the chairman’s comments in regard to the acquisition offer, which was $90,000, and has been taken up by more than half of the 26 underlessees.
“For some houses it’s been a really good offer and for some it hasn’t,” she said.
“Even for people who have sold to AGL, and the people who haven’t, the question we all have is ‘What are you going to do with the village?’.”
Mrs Krien believes there was a discussion between AGL and the state government that contributed to the company changing tact, on their position to sustain underleases, earlier this year.
“We felt it was looking positive for us, being able to take over … suddenly that option seemed to disappear,” she said.
“We assume it was a meeting with the state government that we didn’t have a representative at.”
AGL has different lease arrangements with the Bogong Outdoor School, and the Department of Education has previously stated the it would seek to ensure the school continued to operate.
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