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Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull sued by Phosphate Resources for ignoring 122 pieces of evidence when rejecting bid to extend phosphate leases on Christmas Island

Posted by gmarkets on 3 October, 2007

Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull faced the possibility of being called to give evidence in Perth’s Federal Court over claims that he ignored 122 pieces of evidence in rejecting a mining company’s bid to extend its phosphate leases on Christmas Island, reported The Australian Financial Review (10/8/2007, p. 32).

Phosphate sues: Turnbull was sued by privately owned Phosphate Resources, which alleged that he was “either misled or misinformed” when he decided in April to block an expansion of mining because of the potential impact on the island’s flora and fauna. In the first directions hearing of the case on 9 August, judge Robert French ordered the parties to return to court the following month after hearing argument over legal procedures.

An eco-friendly stance: Even the local chamber of commerce was opposed to an extension of phosphate mining, arguing that the island’s rainforest should not be further cleared for mining and that more sustainable industries had to be developed.

Animals absent: Phosphate Resources chairperson Clive Brown, a former WA Labor government minister, said on 9 August that it was in the public interest for the reasons for Turnbull’s decision to be properly scrutinised. He said that none of the animals that Turnbull had sought to protect through his decision – the Pipistrelle bat, Abbott’s booby bird and Christmas Island frigate bird – were present on the 200 hectares of land sought in the company’s proposal. Turnbull had declined to comment on the case.

The Australian Financial Review, 10/8/2007, p. 32

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