RELATED COVERAGE: A history of civil disobedience
THE woman jailed for slashing a police officer’s arm during a raid to remove 300 chickens from her Tamworth home in the late ’90s is now embroiled in another legal battle, this time with Armidale Dumaresq Council.
Florence Vorhauer, 73, was before the Land and Environment Court on Tuesday after ignoring a council order to remove a shipping container and two sheds from land opposite New England Girls’ School.
She was ordered by the NSW Land and Environment Court in 2012 to remove the unapproved structures from her Uralla Rd property and was given six months to do so.
Vorhauer was back before the court this week after failing to remove them in the 18 months since the order was made.
Armidale Dumaresq Council brought the action in an effort to obtain court orders allowing them to remove the container and sheds, but on Tuesday, Justice Rachel Pepper said she wasn’t sure she had the power to allow council to enter land without Vorhauer’s permission.
“There is no existing order that allows you to go on to her property and take her things,” she said. “I have no power to make lawful what’s unlawful.”
Vorhauer previously spent four years in prison after she was jailed in 2003 for slashing two police officers with a Stanley knife during a 1999 raid to remove 300 chickens from her Tamworth property.
She also has a complex history with the region’s councils, lodging several Supreme Court challenges against Armidale Dumaresq, Walcha and the former Tamworth City Council in the past.
The court heard Vorhauer resides in the portable structures with daughter Lisa, using a portaloo for a toilet.
Vorhauer queried why her dwelling had to be approved.
“My ancestors were graziers in this country and they lived in shacks made of wattle daub and mud,” she said.
“If a thing is transportable, how is that damaging the environment?
“You’re asking the court to say you can walk on to my property and take everything I own.”
Vorhauer said the structures belonged to her daughter.
“The property they’re planning to steal doesn’t belong to me,” she said.
But solicitor David Clifton said the responsibility for the unlawful developments lay with the respondent.
“The landowner has allowed these items to be placed on her land,” he said.
Armidale Dumaresq Council was granted 14 more days to put together further written submissions on whether Justice Pepper had the power to make the orders requested, with Vorhauer given until March 4 to respond.
Justice Pepper will then deliver her judgment, without the matter coming back to court.
*With The Armidale Express