Jardine out on his own
By PETER CATON
TWEED council has been blocked by government rules from legally defending an employee publicly castigated by a millionaire developer.
Douglas Jardine, a senior planning officer, has been lambasted in a flyer letterboxed to Tweed Coast households by Gales Holdings, which wants to build a major shopping centre at Chinderah.
Council chiefs considered taking legal action to defend Mr Jardine against criticisms when they were published in a previous public flyer.
However, council found they could not do so under the NSW Local Government Act, which bans councils from meeting the costs of a defamation action taken by a councillor or council employee "in any circumstances".
Senior council officials have publicly defended Mr Jardine, describing him as hardworking and professional.
Mr Jardine said he was unable to comment on the claims in the brochure.
Council administrator and planning committee chairperson Lucy Turnbull said it would probably be beyond Mr Jardine's personal resources to take legal action against Gales or its director, Sydneybased Dr Stephen Segal.
According to the council's planning director Noel Hodges, Gales has five court cases running against the council and is challenging more than $300,000 in court costs awarded to the council.
Dr Segal, who arranged a land-swap with the council as part of a deal to purchase the Kingscliff sewage treatment plant at Chinderah, wants to build a shopping centre there, but has been prevented by council policy which will only allow bulky goods stores such as Harvey Norman or the Good Guys.
Dr Segal said the doublesided flyer, which "gave information about council reports being based on false information, manipulation and censoring", was distributed by post to all households along the Tweed Coast this week.