New legal setback for Oberon in fight against forced council merger with Bathurst

IT was not clear on Thursday night how a new setback in the courts would affect Cabonne Council’s determination to continue the fight against its proposed forced merger with Orange and Blayney.

Just days after Cabonne councillors voted to set aside an extra $60,000 to cover the costs of their council’s ongoing legal battle against the amalgamation, they received some bad news from the Supreme Court on Friday.

The news was that Woollahra Council had lost its appeal against the Land and Environment Court’s decision to reject Woollahra’s challenge to its council merger.

The Supreme Court awarded costs in the Woollahra appeal case to the NSW Government. 

Cabonne Council’s challenge to its proposed merger was also rejected by the Land and Environment Court back in October.

The council had been holding off on launching its own appeal while it waited to see the result of the Woollahra case.

Because its appeal rights were to expire on January 7 and a decision on the Woollahra appeal was not expected until the new year, councillors voted on Tuesday to lodge their own formal appeal.

The council will await further legal advice before determining the next step. 

Mayor Ian Gosper said Cabonne’s legal team was examining the judgment on Thursday afternoon and the council would consider further advice from its lawyers on Friday before taking any further action.

Member for Bathurst and Minister for Local Government Paul Toole said on Thursday afternoon the Supreme Court decision showed the NSW Government had followed the correct procedures. 

“It just shows that the Government has acted in accordance with the law,” he said.

Regardless of whether a formal appeal was lodged, he said there would be no further council mergers happening before the new year.

Woollahra mayor Toni Zeltzer was reported on Thursday as saying the council's lawyers were already considering prospects for an appeal to the High Court.

The rejected appeal in the Supreme Court comes after an indication of a new approach from the NSW Government in its dealings with merger opponents.

Deputy premier and NSW leader of the Nationals John Barilaro and Mr Toole have met with several groups earlier in the week.

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