Salim Mehajer has tried and failed to be reinstated to his position on Auburn Council as he awaits a decision on his ban from civic office.
The deputy mayor was last week suspended for four months for failing to declare financial interests, and is now appealing that decision in the NSW Supreme Court.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found Mr Mehajer had breached local government pecuniary interest laws on three separate occasions between November 2012 and December 2013, when he failed to disclose a stake in a property that was the subject of a proposal before council.
Mr Mehajer voted in favour of the proposal, which is said to have added up to $1 million to the value of the commercial property at 3 Mary Street.
His barrister Michael Finnane QC on Friday argued the wording of the legislation invoked by the tribunal did not explicitly require that a councillor who stood to benefit financially in some way from a decision absent himself from a vote.
“It doesn’t matter if the floor-space ratio changed, or the company of the plaintiff stood to make a million dollars, because the use of that property did not change,” Mr Finnane said.
“It may have had a financial consequence … but if the legislation wanted to prevent what the government or the department says happened, it should have done so by clear words.”
Justice Peter Garling said he would reserve his decision.
That prompted a request from Mr Finnane for a stay on the NCAT’s decision, pending the outcome of the appeal, which would allow Mr Mehajer to resume his role on council.
As deputy mayor, Mr Mehajer would meet with locals daily to help them fight such suburban menaces as overgrown vegetation and illegal dumping, Mr Finnane said.
“If the stay is not granted, he’s just an ordinary citizen,” Mr Finnane added.
But Justice Garling declined to grant the stay.
He is expected to deliver his decision within weeks.