Farmer loses ap­peal over $6.8M bid

Central and North Rural Weekly - - NEWS - AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­

A DIRRANBANDI crop­ping fam­ily which claimed they were mis­led over fi­nanc­ing ahead of a $6.8 mil­lion prop­erty auc­tion bid has lost an ap­peal.

Ja­son Gob­bert made an un­con­di­tional bid, on be­half of farm­ing busi­ness Gob­bert Bros, on Oc­to­ber 17, 2014, dur­ing the auc­tion of prop­erty Bal­lan­dool.

Mr Gob­bert claimed El­ders em­ployee Paul Nel­son, who was a Ru­ral Bank agent, led him to be­lieve his busi­ness would re­ceive fi­nance be­fore mak­ing the of­fer.

But fi­nance was later re­jected, and the fam­ily’s de­posit of $680,000 was for­feited.

The Gob­berts op­er­ate a farm­ing busi­ness en­com­pass­ing three prop­er­ties: Byra, Davir­ton and Chal­lenor Park.

The to­tal size of the prop­er­ties is about 83,000 acres, of which about 43,000 acres is used for grow­ing crops in­clud­ing wheat, bar­ley, sorghum, chick­peas and oats.

The Bal­lan­dool prop­erty im­me­di­ately ad­joined their farm, Davir­ton.

Bris­bane District Court heard at trial that Mr Nel­son was at the auc­tion when Mr Gob­bert al­legedly asked, “What do you think?” and he re­sponded, “It will be a bit of a stretch.”

In a judg­ment handed down last month, Judge Ni­cole Kef­ford ex­am­ined the mean­ing of a “bit of stretch” to de­ter­mine if the term could be mis­lead­ing.

“The Mac­quarie Dic­tio­nary sheds some light on the ac­cepted col­lo­quial mean­ing of the phrase “a bit of a stretch” un­der its def­i­ni­tion of the word “stretch”: be a bit of a stretch, a. to re­quire a max­i­mum phys­i­cal or men­tal ef­fort. b. to be dif­fi­cult to be­lieve: his claim was a bit of a stretch,” she said.

Judge Kef­ford said, his­tor­i­cally, each of the Gob­berts’ re­quests for fi­nance from Ru­ral Bank through El­ders had been ap­proved.

“Mr Gob­bert was … in a par­tic­u­larly pos­i­tive frame of mind,” she said

“He was punt­ing on good sea­sons af­ter two years of drought.”

Judge Kef­ford said she ac­cepted Mr Gob­bert would not have at­tended the auc­tion un­less there was a prospect of fi­nance be­ing ap­proved.

“How­ever, it seems to me that Mr Gob­bert was so keen on pur­chas­ing the prop­erty that he heard what he wanted to hear and would take any­thing other than a state­ment that fi­nance would not be ap­proved as a pos­i­tive sign,” Judge Kef­ford said.

Judge Kef­ford dis­missed the Gob­bert broth­ers’ claim, and said she would hear from par­ties on cost.

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