Tweed ratepayers may face new poll
TWEED residents could be headed for a costly 'bankruptcy by-election' if Greens Party councillor and anti-rally campaigner Katie Milne cannot pay mounting legal bills.
Checks by senior Tweed Shire Council officers on the fine print of the NSW Local Government Act of 1993 yesterday confirmed Cr Milne could be thrown out as councillor if her continuing legal battle bankrupts her, despite earlier advice to the contrary.
That could force Tweed 58,000 voters to the polls within three months of Cr Milne having to step down.
The cost would run into many thousands of dollars - forcing the council to review its budget, further cutting jobs or slashing work such as road maintenance.
The general election in September last year cost the council $342,177.
But even though a by-election would still require the same number of polling booths to be manned a council spokesperson said yesterday the cost would be slightly lower because the counting process for one councillor “should be less complicated”.
However, Cr Milne remains determined to push ahead with her costly court battle and has voiced disappointment that she has been unable to achieve much as a councillor.
She has previously warned she is prepared to go bankrupt in her bid to stop the rally.
“There's hardly any point in being a councillor any more,” Cr Milne told the Tweed Daily News.
Today Cr Milne plans to apply for an injunction in the NSW Land and Environment Court to stop Repco Rally Australia holding its world championship car races in the Tweed and Kyogle shires this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
On Wednesday she must front the Federal Court of Australia for a costs hearing after failing last Thursday in that court to get an injunction.
Rally Australia organisers have vowed to chase her for their legal costs in that case which they estimate “in the vicinity of $26,000”.
Cr Milne, who earlier admitted she does not have that amount of money “at this stage”, yesterday said: “We haven't lost the costs order yet.”
Her legal advocate Al Oshlack has said that should she have to pay costs the money would be raised “from the community”.
Yesterday former mayor, Cr Warren Polglase warned a by-election would be costly and called on Cr Milne to “consider her responsibilities as a councillor”.
“Katie has a choice. She has either got to be an activist or a councillor,” he said.
“When you are elected as a councillor you have responsibilities even though you may detest them. You can't have it both ways.”
Cr Polglase said the council budget would have to be re-worked to find funds for a by-election.
“We've already cut back on staff by about seven or eight people,” he said.
“Normally the money for an election come out of the roads budget.”