Emily Brett became a lead litigant in the class action against the Commonwealth with her husband Dougal in 2014, but she this week heard the court’s verdict without him by her side. “I really wish he was still here so I could share this moment with him,” she said. A loving father of three, Dougal died in a helicopter accident while mustering cattle on his property near the WA-NT border on June 2015. Mr Brett, 40, was flying solo in an Robinson 44 helicopter when it crashed into a river bed about 11.30am on Sunday, June 15, 2015. In its report, Australian Transport Safety Bureau said the helicopter lost engine power soon after taking off from the property during mustering. It deemed the accident was caused by dirty fuel, and a loss of engine power meant Mr Brett had to conduct an autorotation and forced landing. A prominent NT pastoralist, Mr Brett bought the 243,000ha Waterloo Station with Emily, his parents Colin and Alison, and his brother Hamish in 2004. Together, they ran Brett Cattle Company — and led the fight to have the live export industry reinstated after the Gillard Government’s 2011 ban on the trade. Following Four Corners’ revelations of shocking animal cruelty in 12 Indonesian abattoirs in June 2011, the Federal Government ordered a shutdown of the live export trade to Indonesia. As a result, the once booming trade was brought to a halt. The Bretts’ company was the lead applicant in the live export class action filed by law firm Minter Ellison in Canberra on October 27, 2014, after the family spent three years trying unsuccessfully to negotiate its claim with the Federal Government. The Bretts are now among hundreds of plaintiffs who could share in up to $600 million in compensation after winning a case backed by the Australian Farmers Fighting Fund. In a landmark verdict on Tuesday, Federal Court Justice Steven Rares ruled in favour of the plaintiffs in a 300-strong class action seeking $600 million for lost income as a result of a ban on live cattle export to Indonesia in 2011. Justice Rares, in a blistering 150-page decision 18 months in the making, found the ban order made by then Labor agriculture minister Joe Ludwig was “capricious” and “unreasonable”. The class action was left open to anyone who suffered losses because of the Government's suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia in 2011. Lawyers for the pastoralists and for the Commonwealth will head back to court at the end of June to work out exactly how much the plaintiffs are owed. Emily Brett said she was “overwhelmed” by the decision and only wished Dougal could be with her. “To tell him that we won and that all our hard work and fighting paid off,” she said. “This case was to make sure this doesn’t happen again, that no other business or industry has to go through what we had to go through, effectively shut down overnight with no time to prepare or plan. It’s been nine years and to be honest I’ve had enough, this has been the hugest fight and I’ve had to go through a lot in the middle of it. “I’ve just had enough, I just want closure now.” She and her husband had thousands of cattle waiting in yards to be trucked to Darwin for the first turn-off of the year when they were confronted with the news that Australia’s live export cattle trade to Indonesia had been suspended on June 7, 2011. The cattle were about to be trucked to Darwin for the first turn-off of the year, but instead the Bretts and many other pastoralists were left in financial strife. For Ms Brett the goal of the unprecedented class action has remained the same — stop the government from ever again making a snap decision with ruinous consequence for an industry. “We don’t want other Australians to go through what we went through,” she said. “Decisions like this need to be considered a lot more carefully in the future.” The family were helped by former Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association chief Tracey Hayes. Brett family patriarch Colin was beaming after the decision, saying he had started off this journey as a middle-aged man and now he was old. “It’s been a long time, and a long ride, but I’ll tell you what, we’ve had some champions that have helped along the way,” Mr Brett said.