Minister silent on council moves



NSW Local Government Minister Tony Kelly is not commenting on steps by Tweed Shire Council to fight any move to sack them all the way to the Supreme Court or higher.

In the wake of a decision by majority councillors on Wednesday night to engage a barrister, a spokesperson for Mr Kelly said yesterday it was not appropriate to comment on the council's own legal advice.

And she said it was premature to speculate on possible recommendations from Professor Maurice Daly who headed up a public inquiry into the council or what action might follow.

The council's lawyer, Tony Smith, in recommending councillors seek higher legal advice told councillors on Wednesday it seemed at the moment they were "sitting around like sitting ducks at the whim of the minister" who could choose to sack them.

His comments followed a scathing report he had prepared on the public inquiry which he claimed denied the council natural justice and was biased in the way it was conducted.

Mr Smith said the decision to hold a further internal inquiry into the planning department could be interpreted "as an attempt to bully the council whilst it is in the course of preparation of its detailed responses" to the public inquiry.

Ron Cooper, president of lobby group Tweed Monitor, yesterday suggested the legal moves were intended to "gag the findings of the public inquiry". He said it would cost ratepayers thousands of dollars and Mr Kelly should "act immediately" to sack the council.

"Otherwise we will have the ridiculous situation of the community paying for the Daly Inquiry with their taxes, and then having their rates squandered to prevent those findings being disclosed," he said.

He accused Mr Smith's report of smearing citizens who "made submissions in good faith" to the public inquiry.



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