Possums case – hope

On Friday afternoon, 2 March, Justice Mortimer handed down her decision in the Possums case. The decision is lengthy and complex but conservationists said that although the argument put by Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum was rejected, as was that of VicForests, the decision gave them grounds for hope. Read the judgment here and below are the next dates and initial reactions from outside the court on Friday.

Justice Mortimer has set the following dates for the next stages of the Possums case:

  • on or before 16 March the parties and interveners are to file an agreed proposed form of answer to the separate question taking into account the Court’s reasons for judgment
  • if no agreement the parties and interveners are to file submissions concerning their proposed form of answer to the separate question on or before 30 March.

Outside the court on Friday 2 March, immediate reactions to Justice Mortimer’s decision were:

Environment Justice Australia and Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum – Court gives conservationists hope in Leadbeater’s Possum case

The Federal Court rejected the arguments of both VicForests and Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum choosing instead to accept the position of the Commonwealth.

The Court found the Regional Forest Agreement for the Central Highlands exempts logging from Federal threatened species law – despite non-compliance with terms in the RFA that require five-yearly reviews – but importantly the Court also found that non-compliance with other terms in the RFA would remove that exemption.

VicForests Chairman Michael Humphris (quoted in an AAP story) :

VicForests chairman Michael Humphris hoped agreement could be reached between the parties without a long court battle.

Mr Humphris said flora and fauna protection was at the forefront of its planning.

“We can only do what we continue to do in terms of protection of species and our record on that is absolutely first class,” he said.

“We consider ourselves to be absolutely as much environmentalists as all the other green groups out there.”

VicForests media release