Farmers are set to appeal the Government verdict that they used herbicide to remove critically endangered grasslands on a farm partly owned by MP Angus Taylor.
- Jam Land Pty Ltd has been issued with a Department of Environment determination for spraying a 28.5-hectare paddock with herbicide that contained critically endangered grasslands
- Energy Minister Angus Taylor has a financial interest in the farm, which is also owned by his brother and two others, but he says he has “never advocated on behalf of the company”
- The MP’s brother, Richard Taylor, says they reject the determination and will appeal
The Federal Department of Environment has issued a determination against several farmers in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales who used herbicide to remove a critically endangered grassland in 2016.
MP Angus Taylor has a financial interest in the property, registered to Jam Land Pty Ltd through a family investment trust, Gufee, the other directors include Richard Taylor (brother), John Jefferys and David Mitchell.
The department determination states the farmers sprayed a 28.5-hectare paddock with herbicide at Corrowong on October 30, 2016.
It is alleged the paddock contained a critically endangered ecological community, officially listed as the Natural Temperate Grasslands of the Southern Highlands.
The department said the spraying had a “significant impact” on the threatened ecological community and Jam Land Pty Ltd was found to be in breach of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.
The department has sought a remediation determination which will “mitigate the damage that has been caused to the ecological community”.
The farmers will be required to rehabilitate 103ha of remaining native grasslands over a six-year period with strict reporting requirements.
Nimmitabel grazier and director of Jam Land, Richard Taylor, said they reject the department determination and will appeal.
“We chose to fight it from day one, we are surprised and disappointed with the outcome,” he said.
MP rejects claim he sought to influence investigation
While the investigation was ongoing in 2017, Angus Taylor met with department officials and then-Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg.
He said he has not used his position to influence the investigation.
“I’ve never advocated on behalf of the company [Jam Land] — it’s not something I have any involvement in,” he said.
Richard Taylor said that while his brother, Angus, has a financial interest in the company he has not had any role in managing the farm.
“He’s never even been to the farm,” he said.
“He has a small financial interest because of who he’s related to … I guess you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.
Fight set to continue
The farmers at the centre of the case have always rejected the allegation that the paddock contained high-conservation grasslands.
In 2017 Richard Taylor flagged concerns that the federal listing of the grasslands would lead to an over-regulation of farmland across southern NSW and that the changes to the EPBC listing process were poorly communicated to farmers.
“We’re fighting this on the wider implications for farmers on the Monaro [Plains],” he said.
“We can’t go in and boom spray our weeds — we’ve got to use backpacks to spot spray at great expense.”
Richard Taylor said grass weeds are a threat to agriculture and conservation alike.
“And the fact the legislation is so restrictive, in terms of what we can do there, leads to contempt for the legislation.”