Berrigan helps Sydney fight
Berrigan Shire Council will contribute $1788 in legal costs to help a group of city councils fight a planning decision.
City of Sydney Council, North Sydney Council and Bayside City Council challenged a decision by Local Government NSW to rate land as ‘residential’ during the construction phase of a development and before an occupancy certificate had been issued.
The court further ordered the councils refund any rates paid for the land while it was deemed as ‘business’ land during the development.
Berrigan Shire director of corporate services Matt Hansen said while the matter did not directly affect the local council, it was a test case.
He said a contribution from the council would also be a show of good faith, given Berrigan Shire has been the recipient of contributed legal expenses from outside councils before.
The most notable was in 2005 when council was sued by Jason Ballerini.
Mr Ballerini, when he was 16, became a quadriplegic after diving from a tree trunk and hitting an underwater obstacle at the Old Barooga swimming hole near Cobram.
In June 2005, the Court of Appeal upheld a decision to award Mr Ballerini $5.6 million after finding that the council, which was the responsible authority, should have removed the log or put up a sign after a 1996 flood.
‘‘Because it was a trial case Local Government New South Wales helped with our legal expenses,’’ Mr Hansen said.
‘‘Our stance is we help other councils who chip in.
‘‘We’ve been a beneficiary in the past and we tend to, if asked, give back because next time it could be us; it’s a quid-pro-quo.
‘‘It could be us taking a legal test case and we don’t want to be stuck with trying to prove a point for more than 120 councils in New South Wales on our own.’’
Mr Hansen said the request for support had to be unanimously supported by council to go ahead. They voted in favour of assisting at the September meeting.