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Byron Shire
January 18, 2022

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Latest News

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Renew Fest hosts May vigil for grief

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The PM’s report from the National Cabinet meeting yesterday

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Stop Forestry Corporation causing ‘serious and irreversible harm’ to burnt out State Forests

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Fast Buck$, Coorabell

The Echo reported last week that Mayor Simon Richardson and senior staff again refused to comment on recent the loss in the Land and Environment Court (L&EC). 

You’d reckon that between Council’s four lawyers and four media spin-doctors they would have been able to come up with a script for the mayor to sign as to give at least the appearance of active engagement. 

Of course the real reason the mayor hasn’t commented is that his views are unacceptable in one purporting to represent The Greens. He is on the record as suggesting that one might as well give developers what they want because it’s cheaper than going to court. Indeed this particular outcome ‘proves’ his point: the developer gets what he wants and Council is down X thousand dollars. 

The staff have also declined to respond to a suggestion put by The Echo that the LEP needs to be clarified to prevent this happening again. That’s way too cart-before-the-horse for me. 

After observing how Council’s lawyers handled my code of conduct complaints against the General Manager (GM) and The Greens, and having represented myself in the magistrates, district, supreme and L&EC, as well as the Court of Appeal and the High Court (which no qualified lawyer on the entire north coast could claim to have done) I’d be going back to basics if I wanted to get to the bottom of this particular court loss. 

A) How well did Council’s solicitors instruct the barrister(s) appearing for Council?

B) What arguments and information did those barristers put forward in court (bearing in mind that judges and commissioners only take into account what the two sides put before them)?

These questions are particularly important given the Commissioner’s reported comment that ‘Council did not provide any evidence’ in relation to a particular point. I’m also troubled by the Commissioner’s comment that her role in the appeal ‘is not to assess the merits of the structure’, when in fact it is precisely a commissioner’s role to assess merit. It wouldn’t be the first time in my experience that barristers in a case have deliberately taken advantage of the bench’s lack of relevant knowledge to achieve a pre-determined outcome. 

This last comment obviously puts me in the Mayor’s ‘conspiracy theorist’ basket. He wouldn’t know the first thing about what happened in a court of law, but that wouldn’t prevent him from formulating unshakable opinions about the inherent goodness of everyone involved in the legal process. 


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