High Country to the High Court

OMEO cattleman Phil Maguire is taking his fight to save High Country brumbies to the High Court, after he lost his legal bid to stop the cull of the horses in the Alpine National Park.

The Court of Appeal rejected Mr Maguire’s application for leave to appeal an earlier decision that allowed Parks Victoria-sanctioned shooters to cull brumbies under a management plan to protect native flora and fauna.

Mr Maguire believes the wild horses, particularly those in the Bogong High Plains, have heritage value because of their links to the Walers used by Australian soldiers in World War 1.

Chief Justice Anne Ferguson told the court the applicant lacked standing, however Mr Maguire has since said he had legal advice that the argument was flawed, and he had retained a Queens Counsel ready to take on the challenge.

Mr Maguire said several errors were made during last week’s hearing, including the judge incorrectly connecting Mr Maguire to a separate organisation, the Victorian Brumby Alliance.

“The judges got it wrong as they got a lot of other important things wrong,” he said on social media.

“Seems to be a problem with the Victorian Court of Appeal.

“Slack and lacking rigour.”

Parks Victoria chief executive Matthew Jackson said it welcomed the Court of Appeal’s decision on June 19 to allow the cull.

“Parks Victoria has an obligation to control invasive species in Victoria’s national parks, including feral horses, which cause long-term and large-scale damage to native alpine plants and animals,” he said.

“Parks Victoria will review feral horse management plans and will commence operations at the appropriate time.”

Parks Victoria has said to protect the safety and welfare of Parks Victoria staff, contractors and community members, operational details would not be publicly released.

Mr Maguire has previously told the Gippsland Times he and his supporters were prepared to physically block any attempts to shoot the small, 70-odd population of Bogong brumbies.