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Mareeba Shire Council incurs costs following Supreme Court judgement over Airport wrangle

The Mareeba Shire Council has incurred costs following Supreme Court judgement over the Airport wrangle with Richard Rudd. Richard now retaining his hangAr.

It is adorned with the Eureka flag, flying high and proudly.

Even at the beginning, the lease to which Richard is a party and continues to 2037, at s2.02, describes the …use of the hanger…’. Clothes no doubt!!

The costs for the action by Mareeba Shire Council, in which they used a QC in the Queensland Supreme Court must exceed $100,000.

In defending Council’s action, Richard’s case involved two solicitors and a barrister.

As Richard could no longer afford the solicitors, with the first one becoming ill prior to Xmas, he soldiered on alone. His costs went through $40,000 in May, heading for the $100,000 mark.

The problem with these Council activities is that costs are driven up on both sides by the inevitable slowdowns, such as more urgent matters and a recalcitrant Council who at no stage worked for a settlement.

As the case commenced in Cairns, there was still NO EVIDENCE put forward by Council to support their actions.

The CEO and SCO [Senior Compliance Officer], directed two other compliance officers to investigate if Richard was residing at Lease N on 24th September 2020. This followed the placement of a FORM-7 notice on Richards hangar on 31st August 2020. Richard immediately wrote to Council’s solicitors, PrestonLaw, stating he was NOT RESIDING.

PrestonLaw in a letter to Richard refused to accept this as did the CEO and Mayor Angella Toppin.

The two week period failed to find ANY EVIDENCE to support the Form-7.

Not to be outdone, Mareeba Shire Council installs covert surveillance cameras, discovered on/about 8th November 2020.

On the SCO -Schuck in the Supreme Court acknowledged that there was NO EVIDENCE gained to support the allegation of the FORM-7


The Supreme Court Case:

Finally reaching Court on 6th August 2021, after being locked out from 20th January 2021 [almost 7 months], Richard had an offer by Council of $100,000 on May 7th. There was no costs and he lost the hangar for ever and Richard had to sign off on admitting that he was “…at fault…”.

You guessed it: “No THANKS…”

What is the real value of the lease?

The hangar itself – say $200,000. Improvements – SAY $25,000

The value of the residual lease [16 years] given the size of the site and the offer for lease, there being very limited leases of that size SAY $3500pm [$672,000].

A very valuable property.

Offers of settlement. Richard made two offers, but the CEO refused to even discuss them, rejecting them out-of-hand.

Even on 6th August 2021, when Richard’s application made it onto the Supreme Court calendar, Judge Henry suggested to Council to consider a settlement at the end of the first day.


And who should pick up the TAB?


The CEO??

The SCO???

NO, undoubtedly the Ratepayer.

PS: We understand that Mareeba Shire Council self insures. So, if you just take the sewage charge for Mareeba, the sewerage access charge for an average residential property is $923 per annum. Ratepayers contribute to the cost of operation, maintenance and capital expenditure associated with the sewerage system.

If the final cost of this failure by the Mareeba Council, being $200,000, some 216 ratepayers would lose this portion of their rates.

Mareeba Shire 2020/2021

No marker for here of labour cost. If like the adjoining Tablelands Regional Council, of 46% being labour. Pretty poor accounting practice and designed to deceive.

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