BY TOMMY BOUTROS SATHSARA RADALIYAGODA
Kur-ring-gai Council’s recent court victory gives Woollahra Council hope for their appeal against their forced amalgamation with Waverley and Randwick councils.
Ku-ring-gai Council won their court appeal and their merger with Hornsby Council has been halted.
This may prove pivotal in the future of council mergers if it stands as a precedent.
In a recent media release, Woollahra’s Mayor, Toni Zelter said the reasons Woollahra Coucil is resisting to merge and the issues raised by Kur-ring-gai Council during their appeal are very similar.
“Much like Ku-ring-gai Council’s case, our challenge questions the Government’s failure to publicly release the full KPMG report on mergers and calls them to account for their lack of proper process and transparency during the Public Inquiry,” she said.
A spokesperson from Kur-ring-gai council confirmed they won their court appeal because of “the lack of procedural fairness in that the delegate and the public were unable to properly form a view on the merits or otherwise of the merger because the KPMG report was not available to them”.
Since the basis of the two councils’ cases overlap, Woollahra may still have a chance to negate the proposed amalgamation.
“The Ku-ring-gai Council victory in the Court of Appeal means that councils currently before the courts can use the judgement as part of their case against being forcibly merged,” said a spokesperson for Kur-ing-gai council.
However, a spokesperson for NSW’s Minister for local government, Gabrielle Upton suggests that despite the win for Kur-ring-gai, council mergers will continue.
“While we are considering the implications of today’s judgement (Kur-ring-gai Council’s win), the NSW Government is committed to the merger of Hornsby and Ku-Ring-Gai councils given the clear benefits it will have for the local communities,” the spokesperson said.
Woollahra Council residents are still against the council mergers.
Vaucluse resident, Tony Wassaf, said the merger would negatively impact those who live within the municipality.
“The Government is pushing cost savings as the main benefit of the merger. I do not know if that will be true… We have not been provided with any convincing information which would make us believe that we will be better off with a merger,” he said.
Woollahra Council has continued to fight the merger since Mike Baird announced the amalgamation of councils in early 2016.
Woollahra Council will continue with their leave of application in the High Court.