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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Coca Cola water bottling Case, Peats Ridge Springs: Objector gets a chance to be heard
Mood:  chatty
Topic: legal

Well there is plenty of grist in this judgment yesterday: Not nearly as helpful to the objectors as we might have hoped but there is still a fair bit to work with. The community objector Mr Diamond has been allowed in as an "intervenor" but on limited basis and must work with the Council as "gatekeeper" on documents to the Court Appointed Expert (CAE). 

In and outside the hearing Coke are using the threat of costs with their bottomless pockets to suppress the list of documents to barely 3 or 4 extra to go to their nominated expert (now the court appointed expert) that Gosford City Council rolled over to agree with. Gosford CC lawyers continue to see the merit of Coke's logic on all such matters. 

Par for the course Gosford CC's barrister/solicitor issued a letter cutting our 90 or so documents for the expert down to 8, and then after being told something by Coke reduced it down to 4 .... out of 90. It's easy to get the impression Goford lawyers are not fighting as hard on the expert evidence that is available around the traps as one might hope.

A fair observer in the public court house would note that the lawyers for Gosford City Council and Coca Cola Amatil manage to consult very well together, and not very well with the community objectors.

At one point the GCC barrister Matt Fraser snatched a letter addressed to us from our hand - provided to us by his own solicitor - and then complained about our "games" - was it our copy or not - addressed to us? Fraser sent the judge's tipstaff to make more copies. For a moment there we both held it pincer like. At the last hearing he wanted to move the lectern sidelining us down one end of the bar table metaphorically out of sight? At a notice of application we instigated. He's quite canny is our Mr Fraser.

We felt like a noisy Banquo's ghost as usual. Will the leadership of Gosford Council do the right thing as in 2006 litigation and tell their lawyers to help not hinder the public interest objector? Will they tell them to allow more of the 90 documents we listed? Another 10, 15 or even 20? How could they object to an expert report of driest May on record at Mangrove Mountain, the same day as the famous Garnaut Report next installment? Yet they did as per their constrained list here:


And notice both Gosford and CC A are keen to avoid literature of Dr Brian Marshall retired hydro geologist who taught at the University of Technology Sydney. You will see in the judgement below we get a few slaps as agent in our first case as advocate. Cie la vie. We do pitch to varied audiences from her judgeship which she is surely aware of now.

You will see her Honour agrees the CAE should be from Sydney not Melbourne and the council made a serious delay affecting the objectors. (In fact breaching the GCC's own specific motion of 12 Feb 2008 to notify objectors properly.) 

In 2006 the community objector Azzopardi had their share of the costs of the court appointed expert paid for by Gosford City Council so that something approximating a real contest of the evidence and issues with Coca Cola Amatil could be heard. This actually contradicted the gungho submissions of same barrister Fraser in 2006. Ouch. It's hard to say whether the same dynamic applies in 2008 but we are only months from a Local Govt election so one wonders if democracy will get more of a look in with the financial support of Gosford CC.










Posted by editor at 8:09 AM NZT
Updated: Saturday, 5 July 2008 9:22 AM NZT

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