Angus Taylor's firm has to fix eco-damage

·2-min read

A company owned by shadow treasurer Angus Taylor and his brother will have to remediate southern NSW grasslands that were illegally cleared.

On Monday, the Federal Court threw out a case by Jam Land Pty Ltd seeking to overturn the former Morrison government's orders it repair damage done to "critically endangered" grasslands destroyed through herbicide spraying.

The company, owned by Angus and Richard Taylor, owns an 800-hectare property in Corrawong in the Snowy Monaro region of NSW.

In April 2020, a delegate for then federal environment minister Sussan Ley made the remediation orders, finding the firm had sprayed up to 28.5 hectares, removing already threatened grasses which had a significant impact on the wider ecological community.

A bid to the minister to reconsider the decision was rejected in May 2020.

On Monday, Federal Court Justice Michael Lee tossed Jam Land's challenge to the minister's April and May decisions finding the company contravened the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which can attract civil penalties.

"In brief, each ground fails for its attempt to read into the EPBC Act conditions and implications that might appear, at least superficially, logical or expedient, but require conjectural conclusions as to the slippery notion of legislative intent," the judge wrote.

In its lawsuit, Jam Land argued that the grasslands were not validly listed as a threatened ecological community, that the minister's delegates failed to ask the right question, and that the remediation orders were too vague.

Justice Lee rejected all three grounds, finding the listings were validly made and that the delegates considered the proper material before making the orders.

The judge also found the mitigation orders were sufficiently precise, telling Jam Land what was required under the law. The company was also required to supply further detail as to how it was to repair the damage done in a plan submitted to the minister for approval.

Jam Land was ordered to pay the minister's legal costs of the case.

Current Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and Jam Land both declined to comment.