NSW Land and Environment Court delivers blow to Gundagai challenge

Dumped mayor Abb McAlister

Dumped mayor Abb McAlister

FORMER Gundagai councillors have conceded their forced merger court challenge is “on life support” but vowed to keep fighting. 

It comes after the Land and Environment Court dismissed challenges brought by Shellharbour, Hunters Hill, Lane Cove and Ku-ring-gai councils in judgments handed down earlier this week.

The decisions remove obstacles in the way of the government's proposed amalgamations of those councils with their neighbours.

Dumped mayor Abb McAlister remains committed to representing the 93 per cent of Gundagai shire residents who rejected the merger with Cootamundra. 

“All we can do now is hope our judge sees it a different way,” Mr McAlister said. 

“Naturally, we would have preferred a better result for those other councils who learned their fate. 

“But the decision is not the death knell for Gundagai, every case should be looked at on its merits.”

Practicing solicitor and deposed Gundagai councillor Peter Gain maintained hope the controversial merger with Cootamundra will be reversed. 

“Gundagai is in extremis and on life support,” he said.

“Whether Gundagai council ultimately dies or is revived remains to be seen.”

Mr Gain said the Gundagai case was sufficiently different to have a reasonable expectation of a more favourable outcome. 

”There are matters which were put in the Gundagai case relating to alleged deficiencies in the inquiry process of delegate,” Mr Gain said.

“The court refers matter back to the delegate in light of any deficiencies identified. 

“My assessment is the chief judge is withholding his determination of the Gundagai matter until the NSW Court of Appeal delivers its judgement about Woollharra council.” 

The judge found defects in reports prepared by delegates into the proposed mergers of local governments involving Mosman and North Sydney councils.

While those councils could still be merged, a delegate of the Office of Local Government would have to redo sections of reports.

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