Ber­ri­gan helps Syd­ney fight

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

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.

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