By Oliver Lees
Hume council will not seek a legal injunction to prevent Hi-Quality from developing its facility in Bulla as it prepares to accept toxic spoil from the West Gate Tunnel Project.
In May, council decided to seek legal advice about applying for an injunction to prevent Transurban and Planning Minister Richard Wynne from signing contracts enabling the soil to be dumped in Bulla.
The council has separately launched a Supreme Court challenge against Mr Wynne’s approval of Hi-Quality’s planning scheme amendment, which allows the site to accept the soil.
In a report to last week’s council meeting, officers warned against council seeking an injunction, saying an injunction could only be sought against a party to the Supreme Court proceeding.
“As such, council would have to commence a separate proceeding against Hi-Quality or join Hi-Quality to the proceeding; and then seek an injunction against Hi-Quality directly,” the report said.
“Officers are not aware of any legal grounds that could justify council taking any of those actions.”
The report also warned that “the damages suffered by Hi Quality may be very high” if an injunction stalled its building process, and that council would be liable to pay these expenses.
Councillor Naim Kurt said seeking an injunction was “simply too great a risk”.
“We have been very clear in our opposition to this and that’s why we’ve put up almost $200,000 worth of ratepayers money to launch the judicial review of the planning scheme amendment,” Cr Kurt said.
“It appears from the information before us in this report that in seeking a legal injunction we will potentially be liable for perhaps billions of dollars worth of compensation.
“It’s a David and Goliath battle that we’re facing to overturn this [at the Supreme Court], and it’s not often that local government gets wins against the state government, so we need to be very focused on how we fight this.”
Cr Carly Moore said it was necessary to follow the legal advice.
“While I understand that many residents will be disappointed by the recommendation to not seek an injunction, council’s options for next steps are limited.”
Hume resident Chris O’Neill provided a public comment at the meeting, which stated: “We must support council on this decision… however council has to consider what is right for all members of the community going forward.
“Whilst the report states that seeking an injunction is not feasible, our community demands counsel be stronger and explore every other avenue.”
Hume council’s Supreme Court challenge will commence on Tuesday with a directions hearing.