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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Minister supports DCSCA over legal bill

Lisa Neville, state Member of Bellarine and Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, publicly called on Milemaker Petroleum to relieve DCSCA of the $5,500 in Milemaker's legal costs that the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has ordered it to pay.

The VCAT order followed its rejection of DCSCA's request to overturn planning permission for a new Milemaker service station in Drysdale. (See "VCAT orders DCSCA to pay $5,500 legal bill", 3 September 2015 on this blog.)

Ms Neville's call came in a speech to the Victorian state parliament on 20 August 2015.

Her speech reinforced remarks about the case made by Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula two days before. An article in The Age newspaper (18 August) about DCSCA's position included the following:
"(Mr. Pakula) said while Milemaker Petroleum now had the right to recover costs from the Drysdale and Clifton Springs Community Association, 'it could decide not to. I would encourage the respondent to consider its relationship with the local community in making that decision'."

Lisa Neville
Ms Neville's statement follows.
This morning I call on Caltex Franchisee, Milemaker Petroleum, as a show of good will to the people of Drysdale, to waive the $5,500 in legal costs recently awarded against the Drysdale Clifton Springs Community Association.

The Drysdale and Clifton Springs Community Association is a very much respected volunteer led organisation that works tirelessly in representing the views and concerns of local residents.

In doing this, the Association in January 2014 lodged a submission opposing the proposed Milemaker service station with the City of Greater Geelong. Like many other local submissions, the Association argued that the site was an inappropriate location and zoned Rural Living. As Local Member I also provided my full support to this reasonable position, as did a petition of more than 400 hundred people.

However, COGG approved the application and the association then appealed the decision to VCAT. The appeal was dismissed on the grounds it was lodged late. Milemaker applied for legal costs, which was awarded by VCAT to the tune of $5,500.

This is a very substantial amount for any voluntary association and there is genuine fear that if these funds cannot be raised by the community, the Drysdale Clifton Springs Community Association will fold. That would be a devastating effect on the individuals involved and of course the wider community.

I therefore reiterate my call on Milemaker, as a show of good will, to waive this cost and begin the important process of building bridges with locals and in doing so becoming part of the wonderful community that Drysdale is.

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