Casey Council moves to establish fighting fund to help secure State Government's share of methane leak situation

MEDIA RELEASE: 5 May 2010

The City of Casey last night resolved to consider establishing a fighting fund of approximately $500,000 to assist Council in its efforts to seek funding from the State Government for the long-term remediation costs of the Stevensons Road closed landfill.

City of Casey Deputy Mayor Cr Shar Balmes was successful in moving an item of urgent business at last night’s Council meeting that an additional amount, equivalent to an average of $6 per rateable property, be considered as part of the 2010-11 budget deliberations for the purpose of creating a fighting fund for financing a campaign to secure $41.9 million from the State Government, the cost of which represents an average of $450 per rateable property.

‘I have become aware that there is very strong resistance amongst Casey ratepayers of having to foot the entire bill for the long-term remediation of the Cranbourne landfill when a number of State Government authorities and entities have contributed to the current significant financial burden we are facing’, said Cr Balmes.

The Ombudsman’s Report: Brookland Greens Estate - Investigation into methane gas leaks, highlighted that decisions and actions by a number of parties led to the calling of the emergency by the State Government authorities at Brookland Greens estate on 9 September 2008.

‘Why should Casey ratepayers have to foot the entire landfill remediation and monitoring bill when VCAT, a State Government entity, was responsible for removing the buffer zone which allowed residential development to occur right up to the landfill boundary?’, said Cr Balmes.

‘And why should Casey ratepayers have to foot the entire bill when two risk assessments conducted by consultants on behalf of the EPA, another State Government entity, determined that the risk was ‘acceptable’ both before the emergency was called on 9 September 2008 and during the emergency itself?’

‘According to the Ombudsman’s report, even the EPA has conceded that a risk assessment should, in fact, have been conducted before the emergency was declared.

‘These are some of the very compelling reasons that the City of Casey is prepared to fight for what’s fair and right.

‘Our ratepayers are telling us that Council should fight all the way to get the State Government to pay its share, and the establishment of a “fighting fund” is one way this might be achieved.

‘We will strongly defend the rights and financial position of the Council and, ultimately, the ratepayers of Casey, who are now faced with more than $80 million in costs largely due to the actions and decisions of others that were out of Council’s direct control’, added Cr Balmes.

If the State Government doesn’t recognise its duty of care to the people of Casey and Frankston in the face of its agencies’ involvement in the landfill issue, residents may well face the possibility of unnecessary rate rises, the potential loss of services and cut backs in infrastructure expenditure.