Activist group Redlands2030 has been heavily reprimanded for acting against the public interest and ordered to pay legal costs to Walker Corporation, the master-planners of the new Toondah Harbour.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) slammed Redlands2030 for its “attitude” as it failed to accept earlier rulings of QCAT, which supported Walker’s position in preventing the release of their development agreement for the new Toondah Harbour upgrade at Cleveland.
In his ruling, QCAT Judicial Member John McGill SC singled out Redlands2030 for not co-operating to resolve the matter quickly and put doubt on their claims of acting in the public interest.
“It is difficult to discern any public interest in the third respondent’s (Redlands2030’s) opposition to the appeal, in the teeth of three prior decisions of the Tribunal,” McGill SC said.
“It can be seen also not to be in the public interest for organisations of limited financial resources to feel that they can litigate in the Tribunal with impunity, protected by poverty from any adverse costs consequences.”
QCAT ruled Walker Corporation “had a right to have their commercial confidential information protected” and presented “a strong case”.
The Tribunal ordered Redlands2030 to pay Walker Corporation’s legal costs in the “interests of justice.”
Redlands2030 lists itself an incorporated not-for-profit association. The Tribunal said there is the chance “the members of the organisation could be personally liable if any order for costs is made against it.”
“I expect their combined resources would be the relevant consideration,” John McGill SC said.
QCAT also took aim at the Queensland Information Commissioner’s lack of independence stating it demonstrated “no willingness to cooperate in any way which would assist the Tribunal to resolve the matter as efficiently as possible,” McGill SC said.
“That was at least unhelpful, and may approach being obstructive. It is no part of the obligation of neutrality.”
Peter Saba, Walker Corporation’s Director of Development & Major Projects said Redlands2030 has been wasting everyone’s time.
“We did our best to mediate amicably with Redlands2030 but they refused to co-operate and have caused us a significant legal financial burden,” Mr Saba said.
“The decision is a vindication of the huge community support behind Walker’s Toondah Harbour masterplan.
“Redlands2030 has always been hellbent on stopping future generations of Queenslanders from enjoying the new Toondah Harbour vision set out by Redlands City Council and the Queensland Government.
“The Toondah Harbour project will be another golden attraction for tourists during the 2032 Olympics for Brisbane and beyond. We are committed to reviving the gateway to Stradbroke Island and Moreton Bay, so all Queenslanders can enjoy it’s natural beauty, with first class ferry facilities, south-bank style lagoon pool, waterfront cafes and retail as well as fishing, kayaking and recreation areas.”