But former Mayor Scott Bennison stands firm
BY OUR CIVIC ROUNDSMAN
Lane Cove Mayor Deborah Hutchens has defended her decision to vote against her council going ahead with further legal action to challenge the municipality’s forced merger with Ryde and Hunters Hill.
Mayor Hutchens was one of four Liberal councillors to vote against the legal action to challenge a Land and Environment Court decision against Lane Cove, which was passed by five votes to four last week on the votes of Liberals Clr Scott Bennison, Clr David Karpin and the three Independents.
“I made a strictly business decision and it was commercially responsible,” Mayor Hutchens claimed.
“It was after receiving legal advice and given a clear concern about the State Government to push forced amalgamations.”
Mayor Hutchens estimated that around $500,000 had been spent in the three council backed campaign to oppose the forced merger.
She stressed that legal action would only, ultimately, be to challenge a process and procedure used by the State Government to justify the forced merger and is not legal action to prevent it.
“I have a responsibility as Mayor to ensure ratepayers money is spent responsibly,” she said.
The Mayor said it has always been Lane Cove’s position to stand alone.
Liberal Clr Scott Bennison opposes forced mergers and is standing by his vote.
“In the words of Donald Trump .. this is the worst deal ever for the residents of Lane Cove,” he said.
“The decision to vote to continue legal action is not only about the cost of ratepayers funds to appeal the Land and Environment Court’s decision but is also about the real financial and non-financial costs to the residents of Lane Cove should the merger proceed.
“What cost do you put on democracy?”
He said it is also a matter of honesty in government.
“The lies that this Berejiklian Government has stated cannot go unchallenged,” he said.
“Berejiklian based her justification to proceed with the Sydney mergers as necessary to address the city’s housing affordability crisis and improve development approval times.
“But housing affordability is not linked to Council mergers it is a function of supply, foreign Investment rules and taxation.”