Law firm demands probe following Kingscliff death
THE tragic death of a disabled pensioner found in squalid conditions after a NSW Government agency failed to approve repairs to his Kingscliff home has triggered calls for an inquiry.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers has sent a letter to all Tweed Heads and Coffs Harbour political candidates urging them to commit to an inquiry.
It was reported in late January that Steven Colley had spent the final months of his life in a Kingscliff home that was falling down around him after a failed decade-long battle to get the NSW Trustee and Guardian to approve repairs.
The 57-year-old's body was so decomposed when discovered in July last year that the Coroner could not determine the cause of death.
After the story was published and Attwood Marshall threats of legal action, the Trustee and Guardian waived fees totalling $31,876 for commissions for managing the estate.
Legal practice director Jeffrey Garrett has lobbied sitting MPs and candidates ahead of the election to commit to an inquiry if they win at the March 23 poll.
"Steven's sad story is the human face of a systematic failure of the NSW Trustee and Guardian which needs to be investigated," Mr Garrett said.
"We have dealt with the government agency for many years and over time have experienced first hand a litany of incidents constituting a long-term pattern of neglect, maladministration and mismanagement of the affairs of those most vulnerable in our society.
"We have also experienced similar issues with the in-house legal section of NSW Trustee and Guardian, involving long periods of delay in responding to correspondence, failure to adhere to court timetables, and generally being obstructive and uncooperative in legal matters.
"This increases legal costs significantly for all parties and many families are financially and emotionally distressed by this deliberate conduct."
Michael Beehag, executor of Mr Colley's estate, backed the call for an inquiry.
"I am proud for Steven that in death his story may assist others in avoiding a similar fate. Let's all support and seek a parliamentary inquiry, a Royal Commission or whatever it takes to make sure this never happens again," he said.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest and Labor candidate for Tweed Craig Elliot both backed an inquiry into the Trustee and Guardian.
A spokesperson for Mr Provest said he had been contacted about the issue and acknowledged the concerns.
"If re-elected on March 23, he will make representations to the incoming government and will also raise the matter with his colleagues in the Legislative Council," the spokesperson said.
Mr Elliot said he had "serious concerns" regarding the matter of Mr Colley.
"I support an investigation into the NSW Trustee and Guardian," he said.