Rocky and Livingstone councils pay up for water pipeline

ROCKHAMPTON and Livingstone councils have agreed to pay what is believed to be a multi-million dollar out-of-court settlement to the main contractor on a key regional water pipeline.

A legal battle has raged for nearly five years after Rockhampton council reportedly refused to pay Bailey Civil Contractors Pty Ltd for work on the $50million Rockhampton to Yeppoon pipeline, which was opened in July 2010.

Livingstone Shire Council will pay two-thirds of the settlement.

Rockhampton council's acting CEO Bob Holmes said yesterday the councils had resolved the court case with Bailey on terms satisfactory to all parties, which included a cash settlement.

Each party remained tight-lipped about what the settlement was worth.

In 2012, MP Vaughan Johnson described the council's refusal to pay "an absolute disgrace of the highest proportions".

At the same time, Bailey's owner John Bailey claimed his company was owed $3.2million plus a bond of $750,000 he paid at the start of the contract, which was still being held by the council.

When contacted yesterday, Mr Bailey would say nothing more than he was happy with the end result.

Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig said a negotiated settlement was always the commonsense way to resolve what had been a contentious and complex dispute.

He said his council would pay two thirds of the settlement, given that two thirds of the infrastructure was in Livingstone.

"Did we pay more?

"Yes, but when you factor in the previous legal costs (which were paid by Rockhampton), it wasn't significantly more," he said.

"Certainly, it was a substantial settlement but only a fraction of what the court case was potentially going to cost.

"The most important thing was that we put an end to something that had already gone on for five years."

Cr Ludwig said the councils had acted to offset the claim, which had escalated to a potential payout of $27million.

A half-page advertisement headed Apology to Bailey Civil Contractors Pty Ltd was published in The Morning Bulletin on July 5.

It read in part: "The councils acknowledge that the work done by Bailey produced a fully functional pipeline by the end of 2009 and regret any inference that may have arisen casting any doubt upon Bailey's capacity or reputation."

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