Sunday, 3 January 2021


Response to Sunday Mail Article “Council’s theft of $1m in Utilities”

14 December 2020

“Council’s Theft of $1m in Utilities” not true says Unley Council.

The Sunday Mail story about the Soldiers’ Memorial Gardens and Supreme Court proceedings brought by the Duke Group lacks balance.

Our defense was submitted to the Supreme Court on Friday 11 December, before the story was published. Here is a copy of our defense.

Council rejects and will contest for very good reason the Duke Group claim. It is in the best interests of Unley ratepayers for Council, on their behalf, to reject and defend claims such as these.

The claim involves the use of water and electricity.

Immediately after Council was approached by Griffin Lawyers on behalf of the Duke Group, we engaged an external services consultant to review, quantify and identify the source of both water and electricity used on the Soldiers’ Memorial Gardens.

With water, the report indicates the Garden always was watered through meters from Unley Road and Thomas Street. This is confirmed by SA Water documents that record quarterly usage and charges since 1996/97.

On electricity, the consultant confirms that all monument lighting was fed by a SAPN (formerly ETSA) connection. The report indicated power to the public toilets for lighting, hand dryers and a small hot water service came through the adjacent shopping centre and had likely done so since Council sold the shopping centre in 1997.

This was corrected in June 2020 immediately after it was identified. Review of daily usage and assessment of power consumption over the past 20 years by an independent expert indicates that if council was found liable to pay for the use of shopping center’s power the cost of that power is no more than $4000.

 Council offered to settle the matter ahead of court proceedings, but this was not accepted. Council will defend what it considers to be its strong position on this matter.

Mayor Michael Hewitson