On 6 July 2018, the Federal Court dismissed Huon Aquaculture’s application for a declaration that the Commonwealth Minister’s decision authorising the expansion of salmon farming in Macquarie Harbour was invalid.
The Court did not decide on the merits of Huon’s claim. Instead, the Court considered a range of factors to decide whether, even if Huon was correct, it should exercise its discretion to invalidate the Minister’s decision. Despite accepting that Huon had genuine concerns regarding the impacts of declining dissolved oxygen levels, and finding it was “more likely than not” that a Minister reconsidering the expansion today would find that it was a controlled action, the Court held:
Even on [the assumption that Huon succeeded in establishing its grounds], the cumulative weight of the factors… in favour of refusing relief, in the specific facts of this case, significantly outweigh the reasons to the contrary. They collectively justify the Court exercising its discretion to refuse Huon the relief it seeks.
For an updated timeline of events in Macquarie Harbour, click here.