Bid fails to overturn amalgamation

A CLIFTON man has lost his final legal bid in Queensland bid to overturn the state government’s forced amalgamation of his former Shire with Toowoomba.

Community campaigner Chris Barton took his action all the way to the Queensland Court of Appeal, whose three judges unanimously dismissed the case in Brisbane yesterday morning.

Mr Barton originally filed a claim in Toowoomba in July last year against Premier Anna Bligh and former premier Peter Beattie, claiming the government’s council mergers in 2008 were unlawful.

The Supreme Court in Toowoomba rejected his claim on the basis that he was asking for the Clifton Shire to be re-created, which the judge in the case said he did not have the power to do.

Mr Barton addressed the Court of Appeal last Wednesday, stating he and the rest of the Clifton community had been “disenfranchised” by amalgamation, which contravened the Australian Constitution and the ancient Magna Carta.

He also stated to the court that Clifton residents had clearly voiced their opposition to amalgamation in a plebiscite ordered by the Howard Government, which weighed into the merger debate in 2007 after a slanging match with then-premier Beattie.

In their judgement delivered yesterday, Justices Muir, Fraser and Chesterman agreed Mr Barton’s case had been “misconceived” and “devoid of merit” and that the state government had acted lawfully in the amalgamation process.

They found the plebiscite results were not binding on the state government as local government fell completely under its jurisdiction and also that the Court of Appeal had no authority to re-establish the former Clifton Shire Council.

Mr Barton, a disability pensioner, was not ordered to pay court costs.

He has previously said he will go to the High Court of Australia but was unable to be contacted yesterday.

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