Former Wagga council general manager Alan Eldridge has admitted to being "deeply involved" from 2014 in a plan with his son to rezone land but said he did not know, while on staff, that the proposal was put to council.
The Supreme Court of NSW sitting at Wagga courthouse was on Monday presented with numerous emails written by Mr Eldridge's son, Joshua, to his prospective Inglewood Road business partners between 2014 and March 2015.
Claims Alan Eldridge, after he was appointed acting GM in October 2015, had a conflict of interest in decisions around his son's plan for a housing estate led to him being stood down in late February 2017 before being summarily dismissed in May that year.
Under questioning from Wagga council's senior counsel Robert Goot, Mr Eldridge stated he had been sent copies of most of the emails at the time they were sent.
Mr Eldridge admitted that "the evidence shows" he drafted a partnership agreement for the planned Inglewood Road housing estate at Gumly Gumly and he was, prior to being employed as general manager, emailed documents about applying to rezone the land for residential use.
After spending the hearing's initial week reading documents and passing notes to his legal team, Mr Eldridge testified for the first time on Monday.
Mr Eldridge said his initial interest in the Inglewood Road plan was lending his son "the money".
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Mr Eldridge told the court that "loaning your children money was not usually about expecting a return" but he did attend the property venture meeting to give money to Joshua.
Mr Eldridge admitted he "left off" his involvement in businesses Eldridge Properties and Eldridge Group when submitting a pecuniary interest report to the council.
When asked about his actions in February 2017, when a journalist from The Daily Advertiser emailed the council to ask about an alleged conflict of interest, Mr Eldridge said his memory of "most of that day" was "a blur to me".
Mr Goot asked Mr Eldridge if he was "well aware before February 16, 2017 of your son's involvement in land on Inglewood Road, Gumly Gumly".
"I agree with that," Mr Eldridge replied.
Mr Eldridge said he was "not aware" before that day that his son's land was the subject of an application to rezone the land from rural to residential.
Mr Eldridge appeared flushed in the face as questioning moved to his private business emails.
Mr Goot read from emails about a meeting at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 26, 2015 that Mr Eldridge attended with a partner in the Inglewood housing estate.
"There might have been a discussion about land in Wagga," Mr Eldridge said.
In response to his own senior counsel John Fernon, Mr Eldridge denied having a paid role in developing a medical clinic at Batemans Bay in July 2016, which was part of council's claimed reasons for dismissal.
Mr Goot told the court he expected to finish questioning Mr Eldridge on Tuesday.
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