BPH Energy says Federal Court now has key documents as case against the ‘clandestine’ actions of an ex-PM heat up
Link copied to
Just days after securing funds to drive its new energy goals, BPH Energy is back in the news as the countdown begins for the Aussie-listed holding company’s big day in court with former prime minister Scott Morrison.
In a note to the exchange on Monday morning, BPH Energy (ASX:BPH) revealed the Federal Court of Australia has made key documents in the landmark legal case brought against the ex-PM by BPH and its partners, publicly available.
According to BPH, the milestone moment in the legal process includes investee Advent Energy’s wholly-owned subsidiary Asset Energy’s application for Judicial Review as well as the orders by which Asset Energy is seeking from the court regarding Mr Morrison’s alleged improper use of extraordinary ministerial powers to block Asset’s potentially lucrative PEP-11 gas exploration licence.
According to BPH executive director David Breeze, the federal government also handed over a stack of documents relating to the ex-PM’s purported decisions (around the licence application) to the Federal Court.
In legalise, the ball is rolling.
The news comes after the AFR reported on Friday that the former High Court justice Bill Gummow questioned Mr Morrison’s call to take on the bonus ministerial portfolios, calling them “clandestine appointments” (which doesn’t sound great) and saying they were invalid because of the secrecy involved.
Mr Gummow said Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue, QC, was wrong to tell the incoming government that the extra portfolio responsibilities for the ultra keenPM were all ok under the Aussie Constitution.
Now a quick recap, because things should get interesting from here.
In December 2021 BPH told the market that the Morrison government had scuppered an extension application for PEP-11 offshore gas exploration made by its investee business Advent Energy.
The rejection of the 4500-km permit off the coast of northern NSW came as a bit of a shock, because despite some local environmental and community opposition, word around the campfire was that then-Resources Minister Keith Pitt, recognising the intense pressures of the east coast gas market, was supposedly in favour of the extension.
Then came the pretty gobsmacking revelations of Mr Morrison’s widespread under-cover-of-COVID secret ministerial shenanigans which others might refer to as abuse of power but we don’t have lawyers at the moment so we couldn’t possibly comment.
One imagines the implication would be that the former Prime Minister, moonlighting as the Resources Minister pulled rank, rejected the application and got up to no good for unknown though possibly nefarious reasons.
Then in June, Asset Energy – the wholly-owned subsidiary of Advent (remember they’re the BPH investee) took the PM to the Federal Court alleging bias in his rather extraordinary decision not to renew the PEP-11 offshore exploration permit off the northern coast of Newcastle, claiming Mr Morrison failed to afford procedural fairness to the application.
With the fresh revelations of Mr Morrison’s secret ministerial powers, however, BPH and Advent are now urging the government to reconsider the rejection of the application.
Did Mr Morrison leverage his more extraordinary than we realised ministerial powers to overrule then then resources minister, Pitt?
Did the PM shoot down the project off Newcastle because there was an election in the post?
Did Mr Morrison just wade on in like John Wayne without telling his colleagues, his constituents, his palm reader or BPH Energy that he’d appointed himself responsible to at least three additional portfolios?
Indeed, would this have happened if BPH was spelled slightly differently?
Of course, some might think that, but we couldn’t possibly comment.
All that happened, mind you, back in April 2021 and aside from being totally dodgy – if proven in any way to be at all based in fact – the extraordinary move skewered the drilling of Seablue-1 approximately 26km SSE offshore of Newcastle, NSW.
BPH is the only Aussie-listed holding company specialising in investments across the Australian biotech and resources sectors and while last week’s $1.2m in additional funds to accelerate its hydrogen, gas and carbon storage plans, is good news, the offshore potential of the PEP-11 project and it’s dissolution has potentially robbed BPH and it’s shareholders of at least due process, at worst, millions of dollars of revenue.
Long story short, the end is now getting very pointy with documents tendered to the Federal Court and an outcome for BPH and its stakeholders, and a potential reckoning for any misdeeds done and the brains trust that did them move closer by the day.
Meanwhile BPH says it’s now topped up with cash to chase the next phase of its hydrogen investment as well as the proposed PEP 11 Gas and Carbon Capture Storage project at Baleen, led by Advent Energy and the more than 36% stake BPH has in it.
Breeze says the placement received strong support as well.
“Advent has received a copy of the draft Environmental Plan which is currently being reviewed prior to release to enable the Environmental Consultation Process for PEP 11 and we are hopeful of conducting drilling, subject to resolution of the judicial review application in the Federal Court of Australia in relation to the extension of the PEP 11 Permit.
“The funding also allows BPH to accelerate the exploration programs to unlock the potential on both our hydrogen and gas projects especially following the recent gas crisis and focus on hydrogen.”
This article was developed in collaboration with BPH Energy, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.