Whitsunday sewerage fee challenge dismissed by court

A LEGAL challenge to Whitsunday Regional Council's right to charge sewerage fees has been flushed down the toilet.

The District Court dismissed Suzanne Margaret Amos and company Hillmoon's appeal against paying sewerage fees on Bowen properties and ordered them to pay a combined $40,648.38 in outstanding sewerage fees.

Ms Amos and Hillmoon claimed as the council do not own the sewage treatment plant they cannot charge for its use.

After initially losing the case in Bowen Magistrates Court, where Ms Amos was ordered to pay $12,140 and Hillmoon $28,508.38 plus costs, they appealed the decision to the District Court.

They claimed as company Aspen Whitsunday Shores owns the sewage treatment plant, the council cannot charge on their behalf. They admitted the council owns the pipes, pump stations and other infrastructure.

In their written submissions they claimed their appeal could impact ratepayers across the Whitsunday and Queensland.

However, the council maintains legislation allows them to charge for this utility - pointing to their ownership of everything except for the treatment plant.

"The underground pipes and sewerage pump stations are owned and operated by council. Therefore council provides a sewerage service (to the appellants' properties) therefore sewerage rates are able to be levied and are payable," the council submitted.

Judge Clive Wall said legislation backed the council's argument.

"There is no legislative requirement that a sewerage treatment plant be owned by council before it can levy sewerage charges," he said.

"There is no legislative support for the arguments advanced by the appellants, on the contrary, the statutory provisions I have referred to support the stance taken by council."

He dismissed the appeal.



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