Likely In Hands Of Court

25 June 2024. Michael Guerin, AgForce CEO.

With our members, industry and community members by our side, AgForce is progressing our case in the Federal Court to ensure the Great Artesian Basin is protected in perpetuity.

Last week, on June 18th 2024, AgForce filed its ‘Outline of Argument’ in the Federal Court of Australia. To be specific, we seek to set aside the decision made on February 9th 2022 by a delegate of the then Federal Minister for the Environment that the proposal by Glencore/CTSCo to dispose waste products into the Great Artesian Basin was not a controlled action.

Under directions set by the court, the respondents – that is the Federal Government and Glencore/CTSCo – must file their response to our proposition by July 9th. Our two days in court to have the matter heard are then set for August 1 and 2 2024.

Two years’ worth of work leading to this point have cost AgForce enormously financially and emotionally, and could have all been avoided had the now Federal Minister for the Environment Tanya Plibersek called that 2022 decision back in for review when we first raised the issue.

That she continues to refuse to do so confounds us and is why AgForce will likely need to take up the allocated court dates.

There is still a small window of opportunity though. Should the Minister decide to review that decision and determine it is a ‘controlled action’, she does not need to speculate what the ensuing review by the scientific panel would say.

The State Government sought this advice in its separate approvals process for the same project. The information gathered showed in some scientific detail that the proposed action would likely have irreversible and harmful impacts on the GAB – a natural wonder of the world.

It looks to AgForce like the Federal Government decision in 2022 has prevented proper Federal scrutiny and assessment of a project that proposes injecting waste products into a critical water resource.

And that decision also leaves open the opportunity for other similar proposals to follow. That’s why AgForce is pursuing this in court.

The Minister can call this in for review at any point – but assuming she does not, we and all who rely on the Great Artesian Basin are now in the hands of the Court. What a tragedy that it appears to have got this far, for something so special and critical.

/Public Release. View in full here.