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Huge costs bill hits activist group ahead of High Court hearing

Business

New Hope Group is chasing an activist group for $700,000 in court costs as both sides ready for a High Court hearing next week.

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The costs relate to the controversial hearings in the Court of Appeal which ruled in favour of New Hope against the Oakey Coal Action Alliance and was scathing in its assessment of the Land Court hearings and said there was apprehended bias.

Court of Appeal president Walter Sofronoff said Land Court member Paul Smith had formed an “extreme and irration­al animus” towards New Hope. An earlier Supreme Court judgment also said  Smith displayed appre­hende­d bias against the New Hope Group.

But now the matter is heading to the High Court where the Oakey Coal Action Alliance is seeking leave to appeal the Queensland courts decision.

That matter will be heard on June 5.

But OCAA said New Hope had tried to stop the review of Acland Stage 3, but was defeated in the Supreme Court.

OCAA’s Paul King said New Hope attempted to have Oakey Coal Action Alliance liquidated before next Friday’s High Court hearing, but it was rejected by the Supreme Court.

“It is a great victory for OCAA and for justice. I think it marks the beginning of the end for Stage 3,” said OCAA Secretary Paul King.

New Hope said it had not sought to have the group liquidated, but would be lodging its claim for costs. It also disputed there had been any court victory by OCAA.

The company forecasts that the stage three expansion of the coal mine in Oakey will deliver 487 new jobs, including 187 within the first six months, while also injecting $7 billion into the Queensland economy.

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