Decisions by the former Morrison government that a firm part-owned by Angus Taylor illegally cleared out grasslands in a “critically endangered” ecosystem were invalid, a judge has heard.
In a Federal Court hearing on Thursday, Jam Land Pty Ltd, which is owned by the former federal energy minister and his brother Richard Taylor, attacked decisions made over the company’s Corrawong property in southern NSW.
Despite grasslands on the property being listed as a threatened ecological community in the critically endangered category, Jam Land sprayed herbicide over 28.5 hectares in October 2016, resulting in the grasslands being destroyed, the Minister for the Environment found in April 2020.
An order demanding Jam Land remediate the destroyed grasslands was subsequently made. An internal review of this decision was knocked back, leading to the Federal Court suit being filed on Christmas Eve last year.
On Thursday, Jam Land’s barrister Stephen Lloyd SC argued that the listing and both remediation decisions were invalid because the government and scientific experts reviewing the area’s ecology had not followed the proper processes.
If there were no critically endangered species on the Corrawong property, any actions such as spraying would not be illegal and remediation would not be required, Mr Lloyd argued.
“If we win on the listing argument, the invalidity of the (listing) instrument, then that would flow through to invalidate this (remediation) decision,” he told Justice Michael Lee.
Angus Taylor has an indirect shareholding in the firm and is understood not to be playing an active role in the Federal Court lawsuit.
The hearing continues.