LOSS: Cr Andrew Smith sums up his argument as to why Ausco Modular's application for a permanent 1000 bed camp in Chinchilla should be rejected.
LOSS: Cr Andrew Smith sums up his argument as to why Ausco Modular's application for a permanent 1000 bed camp in Chinchilla should be rejected. Matthew Newton

Council digests court defeat

LAST week's court decision in favour of the Stayover by Ausco in Chinchilla is still a bitter pill for Western Downs Regional Council to swallow. The approval for the 1000-bed facility to house workers goes against the council's wish to have workers stay in towns.

Councillor Andrew Smith said the near two-year legal battle was not about the permanency of the camp, but how many workers it would host. He also stated, how the business landscape would change remains to be seen. The decision comes just weeks after many conditions on the Stayover camp at Dalby were lifted by the courts.

The council has yet to decide if it will appeal the decision, and the time and money which has been invested into both case may convince it to accept the decision.

The council has faced heavy criticism in previous weeks after the hike in council rates, and Cr Smith said the legal costs of the two cases against Ausco have been "considerable”.

"When we look at these court cases, we do consider our financial implications of going to court,” Cr Smith said.

The Dalby Herald has asked the council how much has been spent on the legal battles against Ausco. Thus far, the council has not been able to provide a figure outlining how much money has been spent, stating not all invoices had been received.

However a spokesperson for the council stated, "whilst Council has an operational budget of $400,000 for planning-specific legal costs for the 2017/18 budget, we always endeavour to reduce expenditure wherever possible”.

Mayor Paul McVeigh said the council had not had a chance to look at the judge's briefings of the verdict, and had yet to meet to discuss the decision.

"The first thing we will do is get the brief from the judge, then we will make a decision,” Cr McVeigh said.

"We've spent a lot of money as a council on our stance, we wouldn't have done that if we did not believe we would be successful.

"For now we will just accept the decision of the court.”

Ausco Modular's Roger Bradford said Ausco was very pleased by the court's decision.

"It is great news for our local employees, suppliers and service providers and we thank them for their support through this process.” he said.


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