Utopia con­cerns

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS -

Your re­cent re­ports about the Utopia Pet Lodge fi­asco (Gaz 10/4) should con­cern Baw Baw Shire cit­i­zens.

The af­fair it­self is his­tory: a costly mis­take by the pre­vi­ous coun­cil, which cur­rent coun­cil­lors and ratepay­ers have no choice but to wear. No amount of hand-wring­ing and blame-gam­ing can change that.

This doesn’t ab­solve the present coun­cil from com­ing clean about as­pects of the Utopia trans­ac­tion that raise broader ques­tions of gov­er­nance:

How can it be claimed that in­for­ma­tion about Utopia re­mains com­mer­cial-in-con­fi­dence when that busi­ness no longer ex­ists?

How can a coun­cil be bound by a con­trac­tor’s ‘dis­claimer’, the usual mean­ing of which would be re­nun­ci­a­tion of claim to some as­pect or im­pli­ca­tion of work done?

If the ‘dis­claimer’ in this case were re­ally a non-dis­clo­sure un­der­tak­ing sought by the ‘in­de­pen­dent en­tity’, why would coun­cil agree to it for work com­mis­sioned and paid for by coun­cil?

Even if it were rea­son­able that method­ol­ogy and pro­pri­etary in­for­ma­tion used in the work not be dis­closed, is it rea­son­able to sup­press the na­ture and iden­tity of the ‘in­de­pen­dent en­tity’, and the re­sults of the work, on com­mer­cial-in-con­fi­dence grounds?

Coun­cil is said to have been ‘keen to find if there was a way’ around these pur­ported stric­tures, but to have been per­suaded by le­gal ad­vice that there isn’t. A dif­fer­ent tack might have yielded a dif­fer­ent re­sponse: ‘Don’t tell us what we can’t do; tell us how we can do what we need to do’.

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