Town of Cambridge welcomes Supreme Court decision

Published on 02 October 2020

The Town of Cambridge has welcomed the decision by the Supreme Court today to uphold an injunction against the Local Government Minister David Templeman. The Court agreed the Town was justified in seeking to prohibit the Minister from suspending the Council and requiring elected members to undertake training.

Mayor Keri Shannon said today’s decision by Justice Paul Tottle showed that the action proposed by the Minister, to peremptorily suspend elected representatives, was without foundation.

“We are pleased the court has determined that there was no basis upon which the Minister could conclude that it is inappropriate for the Council to continue to do its job. His Honour determined that the proposed suspension of Council had no basis in jurisdictional fact, was unreasonable and is a disproportionate response to the matters raised in the Show Cause Notice” she said.

“It is apparent from the decision of His Honour that the Minister was not properly briefed by his Department as to the true state of the Town’s affairs. The Town had written to the Department on multiple occasions to advise of the many governance, administrative and workplace reforms it had undertaken, over a three-year period,” she said.

“We recognise that it is very important for a local government to work constructively with the Department and the Minister and we have cooperated with the Department at all times throughout the course of the long running Inquiry process. We hope that today’s decision, which vindicates the Town’s legal action, will provide an opportunity to reset this relationship”

“It is a very unfortunate situation that a Council is forced to take a Minister to court in order to keep doing the job for which it was duly elected. This is the first time that any local government in WA has taken such an action. Thank you to our ratepayers for your continued support and confidence in your elected members to do the right thing.

“The Town intends to seek reimbursement for the legal costs incurred as a result of this process so that our ratepayers are not left footing the bill.”

Justice Tottle also awarded legal costs to the Town and these will be determined at a later court hearing.

With the threat of immediate suspension removed, Mayor Shannon said the Town will now focus its attention on the release of Authorised Inquiry Report.

“Despite more than two years of investigation and millions of dollars, the inquiry is yet to unveil any evidence of malfeasance or misconduct,” she said.

“This has been a difficult and incredibly costly, long running inquiry process for everyone involved and we welcome its final conclusion and to finally putting the matter to rest.

“We have worked incredibly hard to rectify an embedded culture of complacency and neglect and we believe we have been unfairly penalised for doing so.”

The Mayor said she hoped that the report’s findings would allow the Town to get on with the job and put an end to speculation from a small minority about the commitment and actions of the Council and Administration.

“Both the Council and Administration are determined to continue to work diligently for the benefit of all residents and ratepayers in progressing innovative and inclusive plans for Cambridge’s long term financially sustainability,” she said.

“I would like to personally thank council members, the CEO and our legal representatives for their tireless work and recognise the extraordinary stress this has placed on them and look forward to working collaboratively with them and without distraction in the future.” 

Read full Supreme Court Decision(PDF, 3MB)

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