A case of jet-powered sibling rivalry has hit the
Environment Court - but the hearing might yet be scuttled by a
Queenstown Lakes District Council mistake.
Queenstown brothers and former business partners Neville and
Shaun Kelly have battled each other in court since 2008 over
the former's company, Thunder Jet, wanting to operate in
competition with the latter's K-Jet, formerly known as
The brothers co-owned jet-boat company Kawarau Jet between
1987 and 1999.
In 2011, Thunder Jet was granted Environment Court approval
to operate on Lake Wakatipu and the Kawarau River and, late
last year, council-appointed commissioners granted consent
for the company to operate on the Lower Shotover River.
The problem, K-Jet lawyer Graeme Todd told the Environment
Court in Queenstown yesterday, was that when commissioner
John Milligan was appointed to chair the hearing and decide
the matter with another commissioner, he did not have the
full council's endorsement and, therefore, proper delegated
''Accordingly, the council decision is invalid.''
Mr Todd urged Judge Laurie Newhook and two commissioners to
defer the appeal hearing until a yet-to-be-filed High Court
judicial review was undertaken.
Council lawyer Nick Whittington, of Auckland law firm
Meredith Connell, said a council subcommittee had erred by
appointing Mr Milligan but the problem was fixed by a
retrospective endorsement of the commissioner by the full
council in January.
Pru Steven QC, representing Thunder Jet's operating company
Queenstown Water Taxis Ltd, said K-Jet's threat of a review
was to keep Thunder Jet off the river for as long as
The judge said the court would reveal its thinking on the
jurisdictional issue this morning and took evidence from two
Queenstown Water Taxis witnesses: Coastguard Boating
Education tutor Katie McNabb and experienced commercial
jet-boat operator Nick Hamilton, a former Kawarau Jet owner.
The case, set down for three days, centres on safety issues
between the rival companies' boats, particularly radio