Byron Shire councillor Di Woods, who is also the new deputy chair of Rous Water, supports seeking legal costs from anti-fluoride activist Al Oshlack.
Cr Woods supports the move despite the failure of her motion at the last council meeting to have Byron Shire’s water fluoridated.
Just last week, another Rous Water council member, Lismore Greens Cr Vanessa Ekins, told Echonetdaily she opposed the strategy.
But at a closed-doors meeting last week, the region’s water authority voted to spend the money to investigate the ‘seeking of legal costs’ incurred in the Land and Environment Court (LEC), awarded against Mr Oshlack.
As a result, more than $100,000 of public money could be spent chasing legal costs from Mr Oshlack with no guarantee he would ever be able to pay.
Cr Woods told Echonetdaily, ‘I acknowledge Mr Oshlack’s wish to pursue Rous over the issue of fluoride, but it was his decision and he knew full well that it was a win or lose situation which would incur costs. It was not Rous who initiated the legal action’.
‘Rous is a public water authority and all ratepayers have to pay for the privilege of having good potable water,’ said Cr Woods.
‘We are supplied with this at great expense, and it is not in the best interest of the community now to expect all ratepayers to be responsible for Mr Oshlack’s rather large legal costs. If Mr Oshlack had wanted ratepayers to help pay for the case, then he could have initiated a class action instead of choosing to do it on his own.
‘Therefore, in my view, the consequences and costs of the action are his choice and responsibility, not Rous’s, and not the ratepayers of our community.’
Not a criminal
Last week Lismore City Council’s Cr Vanessa Ekins has blasted the decision as a ‘foolish waste of money’.
She told Echonetdaily, ‘Mr Oshlack is not a criminal and should not be hunted because he represented his community. Before going to the Land and Environment Court, I moved that we consent to orders which means that we don’t actively defend the court case but let the court case happen,’ Cr Ekins said.
Byron Shire Cr Duncan Dey, who is also on the board of Rous, agrees any money will be hard to recover. He told Echonetdaily the members who voted in favour appear ‘hell bent’ on punishing Mr Oshlack as a ‘vexatious litigant’.
‘The money would be better spent on improving the long waiting lists for children’s dental appointments,’ he said.