Merger appeal judgement is pending

A CLIFTON man who has taken his fight against forced council amalgamations all the way to the Queensland Court of Appeal faces a wait of weeks or perhaps months for a final judgement.

Activist Chris Barton lodged a court claim against Premier Anna Bligh and former premier Peter Beattie in July last year in Toowoomba, claiming the forced merger of shires across Queensland in 2008 was “unlawful”.

Mr Barton’s action was allowed to proceed by the District Court in Toowoomba but was later dismissed by the Supreme Court as having no substance, prompting him to go higher, to the Court of Appeal, which heard his case in Brisbane last Wednesday.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the court had reserved its judgement, which could take some time to be handed down.

In his original court submission, Mr Barton, who is president of the Clifton Shire Community Group, claimed the Beattie Government had paid no attention whatsoever to a pre-amalgamation plebiscite in which a clear majority of voters had rejected Clifton Shire being absorbed into the Toowoomba Regional Council with other shires surrounding Toowoomba.

Supreme Court Justice James Douglas told Mr Barton last year he was being asked to reinstate the Clifton Shire Council which he, as judge, had no power to do.

It is understood Mr Barton may take the matter to the High Court of Australia if his current appeal fails.



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