Around the councils: Woollahra’s merger appeal; Adelaide’s high-speed internet




Woollahra Council back in court?

Woollahra Council looks set to appeal December’s NSW Supreme Court decision in the High Court, with the decision being made next month. Three Supreme Court judges unanimously threw out its appeal against a forced merger with Randwick and Waverley Councils at the end of last year. 

A council spokeswoman said the council had filed an appeal application and High Court judges would decide whether the appeal proceeded or not. The first day the special leave application can be heard is February 10. However, she said the Court could decide the matter on the papers so could make a decision at any time.

To date, Woollahra Council has spent $850,000 on legal costs relating to the proposed amalgamation and $271,763 on community information campaign about the merger.

The spokeswoman said the council had not incurred any additional costs in this area since it launched legal action in March 2016. It had opposed the merger because an overwhelming number of residents were against it – 82 per cent according to a council survey.

The council spokeswoman said the anticipated costs of a High Court appeal, if our application is successful, would be discussed with the council’s lawyers at a councillors’ briefing on February 6.

Woollahra Councillor Jeff Zulman told Fairfax Media this week that although he opposed the merger he was “uncomfortable” with the council using ratepayers’ money to fight the NSW government in court over it.

But Woollahra Mayor Toni Zetler has repeatedly said any legal fees incurred would be dwarfed by the rate rises a new council would put in place, estimated at between 22 and 53 per cent after the four-year rates freeze runs out, should the proposed merger go ahead.


Adelaide closer to becoming Australia’s first ten gigabit city

City of Adelaide Council is searching for a company to build and operate Australia’s first ten gigabits per second optical fibre network and cement Adelaide’s future as a hub for high-tech industry and research.

The council, which is hoping to make the South Australian capital ‘the centre of the universe’ for high-speed internet, has asked for expressions of interest from international and interstate investors and technology firms around the word to develop its Ten Gigabit City project.

The EOI says:

“It will be the fastest, most reliable large data transfer infrastructure in Australia, giving users access to data at phenomenal speeds, using global interconnects and cloud service providers.”
Once finished, the council’s the network will send 10 billion bits of data per second, 416 times faster than ADSL2+, interconnecting with a new global fibre network and linking cloud-based data centres.”

One huge advantage will be that speed and big data transfer is no longer affected by public internet congestion.

The council is hoping the ultra-fast broadband network will prove a honeypot to businesses across a range of fields, including robotics, digital start-ups, 3-D printing and online learning, enabling them to tap into the network and export their services across the world.

Tender closes February 7.

Hills Shire Council gets $70k disaster relief

The Hills Shire Council has been awarded $70,776 by the NSW government to help clear up the damage caused by the East Coast storms and floods in April 2015.

Minister for Justice Michael Keenan and NSW Minister for Finance, Services and Property Dominic Perrottet announced the payment earlier this week.

The money is being provided through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).

Mr Perrottet said the funding would help relieve the council and ratepayers of the burden of costs associated with natural disasters.

“The 2015 storms hit Western Sydney hard, including the Hills and Hawkesbury, with heavy flooding and high winds causing significant damage,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Recovering from natural disasters is always a challenge for communities and it is vital we all work together when they strike – I know the local SES, residents, businesses and the council all worked incredibly hard in the recovery effort.”

Mr Keenan said: “The NDRRA program gives councils the confidence to proactively step into recovery mode without delay, knowing that they will be able to access funding for disaster recovery activities,” Mr Keenan said.

“This funding will reimburse The Hills Shire Council for costs associated with cleaning up storm and flood debris and restoring damaged essential public assets.”

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