Caring about brumbies is not enough to save them, say Supreme Court judges

LEGAL FAIL: Land owner Philip Maguire wants to take his legal fight to stop the culling of brumbies to the High Court, if he can raise the funds.
LEGAL FAIL: Land owner Philip Maguire wants to take his legal fight to stop the culling of brumbies to the High Court, if he can raise the funds.

A "strong emotional and intellectual attachment" to brumbies in the Alpine National Park was not enough for Philip Maguire to convince the Supreme Court to stop a plan to cull the wild horses.

The judges released the written reasons behind their decision on Thursday, after dismissing Mr Maguire's appeal on Friday against the original decision.

Caring about the horses was not enough - in order to have "standing" to legally challenge Parks Victoria's plans to cull the brumbies, he needed to prove he had a special interest in the issue.

Maguire argued that as the owner of land adjoining the national park, the culling would impact his ability to run a business related to the horses.

But the Supreme Court judges pointed out he had not held a licence to run such a business since 2008 "and there is no basis to conclude that he would obtain such a licence in the future".

IN OTHER NEWS:

"It appears that he enjoys the brumbies coming on to his land, and also seeing them in the adjoining national park. In our opinion, the claimed enjoyment or amenity is insufficient to establish standing," the judges said.

"We cannot accept that the applicant has a special interest in maintaining the number of horses within the national park beyond, at most, an emotional attachment or affinity with the horses which graze there.

"In this context, it is notable that the special interest is not based on a concern about the treatment of the animals but an interest in their retention in sufficient numbers to support his enjoyment of them."

Parks Victoria successfully argued the brumbies were a threat to the fragile ecosystems within the Alpine National Park.

Its "feral horse strategic action plan" published in 2017 stated that trapping the horses was the organsation's first-choice method, then only after further public consultation, would shooting the animals be considered.

A plan to cull the horses was announced in May 2020 without further consultation.

Mr Maguire's argument that Parks Victoria was legally obligated to consult before deciding to introduce shooting, but the judges said the action plan was not made under a specific statutory power.

In a post on the Rural Resistance page on Thursday, Mr Maguire said the Supreme Court decision was "contradictory and full of errors of fact".

He wants to take his legal fight to the High Court, if he can raise the funds.

This story Caring about brumbies is not enough to save them, say judges first appeared on The Border Mail.