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You're standing on my commercial interests

You're standing on my commercial interests

By Brian Yeom


Consider the following hypothetical: Alpha Co provides coastal bus services. The Minister responsible endorses Beta Co’s passenger rail project to connect the locations from which Alpha operates, pursuant to the Regional Transport Act 2016 (Cth), being the act which empowers the Minister to approve proposed transport projects based on the need for services in regional areas. Alpha Co is concerned about the potential decrease in passenger numbers and profitability, as Beta Co is able to deliver faster, more frequent journeys. Alpha Co, a party without direct involvement in Beta Co’s application for approval of its project, may challenge this approval if able to establish that the Minister acted beyond the power conferred by the decision-making process. Should aggrieved parties have standing to seek judicial review where their interests in the impugned decision involve protection from increased competition? Courts have been reluctant to grant standing in such circumstances, noting that mere economic detriment to a business will not suffice.1 However, the High Court in Argos Pty Ltd v Corbell, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development (Argos)2 unanimously held that parties likely to suffer a loss of profitability from an impugned decision may be a “person aggrieved” within the meaning of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth) (ADJR Act). The Court also rejected the existence of any blunt rule against standing for parties who claim a decision may impact only their pecuniary interests. This article examines Argos and its wider implications on standing in judicial review.

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