What started as a simple council development application to build a local prayer hall in Kemps Creek snowballed into a politically charged litigation fought in the media and the court room. Kinglsey Liu explains how his pro bono work for a small Indian Islamic community led him to represent other important human rights causes.
“In early 2014, I moved our law firm office from Darlinghurst to Penrith. My idea was that we would be closer to a true community. I expected it would be more conventional and joined a local branch of a political party, the chamber of commerce, and Toastmasters. I was supposed to be going local.
Around 10 months later, I turned up at the Penrith Council to support the Muhammadi Welfare Association (MWA), a small Indian Islamic community group, in its application to develop a local prayer hall. There was also another development application (DA) for a second neighbouring Islamic prayer hall in Kemps Creek. On that hot Monday night, the council chamber was two levels full and bristling with opposition. Two new prayer halls would be a challenge for the 50 Christian churches in the Western Sydney area. I was prodded by someone and somehow ended up in front of the microphone and speaking in favour of the proposal, but it was adjourned in order that more reports to be produced.