Blue Wedges to be sued following failed Melbourne legal challenge

News – July 18, 2008

The Australian newspaper reports that Australia’s Environment Minister Peter Garrett has confirmed he will pursue costs against the Blue Wedges protest group over its failed legal challenge to the dredging of Melbourne’s shipping channel.

Said the report: “The move threatens to bankrupt the anti-dredging group, but Mr Garrett has said the Commonwealth must pursue the hundreds of thousands owed to taxpayers from the case.”

“The Government has an obligation to pursue debts under the Financial Management Act and that is the basis on which we are acting at the moment,” a spokesman for the minister said.

The Brumby Government and the Port of Melbourne, which also won their costs after Blue Wedges’s legal challenge was thrown out by the Federal Court, said they had not decided whether to enforce the costs order.

Both parties actively pursued an order for costs during the case.

Federal Court judge Tony North ordered Blue Wedges to pay its opponents’ costs on Tuesday after finding its legal challenge to the A$1 billion dredging project was not strong nor novel enough to warrant sparing them the usual obligation for losing parties to pay.

“There are no sufficient special circumstances which would justify departure from the general rule and the respondents are entitled to an order that the applicants pay their costs,” Justice North said.