$150,000 bill for Milbi fight
A SMALL group of Etna Creek residents face the prospect of a huge legal bill after starting their fight to overturn the controversial decision to expand the Milbi indigenous detox centre.
On Wednesday, three separate claims were lodged in the Planning and Environment Court of Appeal contesting Rockhampton Regional Council’s October decision to approve Milbi’s extension application.
Trevor Rufus lives near the complex, which is used as a support centre for indigenous Australians in crisis, and is one of the participants in the legal challenge.
He said residents had been warned their legal bill could rise as high as $150,000, “which is a lot of money for a rural community of about 20 families”.
Five residents are taking part in three separate appeals.
Their claims outline a decision reversal is justified on four different grounds.
These include that the application was not properly made, that it conflicts with the agricultural planning scheme for the area and that the decision adversely impacts the amenity of the area.
The claims detail instances were Milbi residents trespassed into nearby homes, were loud and disruptive and harassed locals.
It also says Milbi is having to ship large quantities of drinking water in because the facility doesn’t have a reliable supply.
Speaking after the claims were lodged, Mr Rufus took aim at council, in particular Mayor Brad Carter.
“This should never have got this far,” Mr Rufus said referring to a vote council initially took where councillors went against the application, only for another vote to be held at a later date because of a technicality.
“The majority of councillors were against it.
“The (second) vote was taken in the absence of a councillor who would have voted against it and the Mayor used his casting vote to get it through.
“Now we face massive legal costs.”
He said residents had no interest in accepting the Mayor’s request for a meeting and had pinned their hopes on the courts.
Cr Carter rejected the residents’ claim that a full council would knock back the application.
“The full council would endorse the current position. I have no doubt in my mind on that,” Cr Carter said.
“I respect the residents’ right to challenge this decision in the court.”
He said the door was still open for residents to talk to him about their concerns.
Earlier this month he convened a meeting of stakeholders, including police and Milbi officials, to address the concerns of residents.
“I am in the process of getting a letter out to all of the residents which will have the minutes of that meeting attached,” Cr Carter said.
The Morning Bulletin was unable to contact a spokesman for Milbi.