Oakey lawsuit against Defence to proceed

Oakey lawsuit against Defence worth at least $56m

SHINE Lawyers will be looking for at least $56 million from the Department of Defence in compensation for the people of Oakey.

Partner Peter Shannon said the firm would seek an eight-figure sum for more than 450 affected residents caught up in the Oakey water contamination crisis.

Mr Shannon made the comments yesterday when he announced Shine Lawyers' class action lawsuit would receive unconditional funding from litigation backers IMF Bentham.

While the exact compensation figure has not yet been determined, Mr Shannon said roughly $140 million worth of property was involved in the lawsuit, which Defence itself said had been affected by about 40%.

"Definitely tens of millions, but just how much depends on expert evidence," he said.

"On our estimates, and that's conservative, we believe $140 million worth of property is affected.

"Defence itself at one of the early meetings was reported as saying that impacts would be up to 40% (of a property's value) and more.

"That's not an unreasonable approach as an indicator, but it really does come down to individual properties."

COMPENSATION CLAIM: Peter Shannon from Shine Lawyers.The Oakey law suit is to proceed. Friday Mar 17, 2017.
COMPENSATION CLAIM: Peter Shannon from Shine Lawyers.The Oakey law suit is to proceed. Friday Mar 17, 2017. Nev Madsen

Mr Shannon said the matter would be in front of a judge within two years.

Residents and landholders who signed onto the lawsuit will look to recover value lost to properties in Oakey, either through direct contamination or by a drop in property prices.

The news is a mixed feeling for property owner Brad Hudson, who is considered one of the most affected residents by the leaking of dangerous chemicals in firefighting foam from the nearby army base.

Mr Hudson, whose bore is considered the most toxic waterhole in the area, said he was not originally interested in going after the Department for money but was running out of options.

"Mixed emotions I guess - it's now a question of how long," he said.

"This could go on for decades - I don't know.

"My life is in absolute limbo; it's hard mate, it's a tough position to be in."

Unable to sell, move or finance his current home or business thanks to the contamination, Mr Hudson said he would be happy if the Department found him another block of land.

"My café is nowhere like what it was, but I wouldn't be able to sell up my business," he said.

"All I can hope is that with this movement, the government grows some balls and compensates the people.

"You don't think there's a day where I wake up and see your property, then you sit there and realise that it's all contaminated.

"After what they've done, it makes my blood boil."

Mr Shannon said landholders were frustrated at the length of time they've had to wait for compensation.

"The people have felt frustrated that there's not much they can do," he said.

"They haven't even had an apology, let alone compensation.

"Now they have an opportunity for a court to decide."


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