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Uncertainty reigns

Posted Wednesday 29 June 2016

As most readers know, two months ago (actually on 29 April) we commenced legal action in the Land and Environment Court (LEC) seeking an order restraining the Minister for Local Government from recommending to the Governor that Mosman be amalgamated with North Sydney and Willoughby Council.

Other metropolitan Councils in similar proceedings are Woollahra, Ku-ring-gai, Botany, Hunters Hill, Strathfield, Lane Cove and North Sydney (also objecting to our merger).

Our hearings started on 30 May before Judge Tim Moore and it was anticipated initially that the hearings would take 2-3 days. This was a major underestimate of the complexity of the issues.

Mosman has put eight grounds to the LEC including defective notice of the public inquiry, denial of procedural fairness, no “public inquiry”, KPMG was not independent, this lack of independence was not conveyed to the public, the delegate failed to have regard to the mandatory relevant factors in the LGA Act, the delegate failed to consider conducting a poll or survey, and Council has not had an appropriate opportunity to respond to the delegate’s report (a failure of procedural fairness).

By mid-June we had had several days in court, but only on the morning of 17 June the Crown produced three additional volumes relating to the engagement of KPMG consultants by the Crown.

At this time, the Court has allocated one more day (4 July) for completion of the hearings. The Judge has announced that he will not be able to give judgment before late July.

Currently, the timing of the judgment, its content and what may follow are all uncertain. But I will do my best to keep you informed of any substantive development.