Law Reform · Energy & Climate

Australians say no to EPBC Act standing changes

13 October, 2015

EDO Qld has published the pleas of 4,000 people calling on the government not to prioritize coal above the law. 

You can still sign or share the petition here.


 

Earlier this year, the Abbott Government proposed to once again look to the past and put coal mining ahead of community and the environment by repealing section 487 (2) of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) and “returning to the common law”.

This was after a community group successfully showed the government had failed to comply with environmental protection laws, resulting in the Federal Court setting aside the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine development (one of only two times this has happened).

But rather than accept the ruling, the Attorney-General George Brandis sought to claim community groups upholding the law are “vigilantes” and “saboteurs” waging “lawfare”.

These claims have been previously disproven by the Productivity Commission (here at p 713), and the Queensland Land Court (here at p 15), who have confirmed there is no evidence to suggest court processes are used for delay rather than ensuring our country’s environmental laws are upheld to protect our precious nature.

In fact reviews of the EPBC Act have recommended extending rather than restricting standing under the Act.

The results to date of the petition will be presented to Attorney-General George Brandis alongside a selection of the thousands of comments that best reflected overall sentiments, such as:

  • "There is no need for these laws to be changed. They are vital to ensure that projects receive the correct level of environmental scrutiny";
  • "The challenge to the Carmichael approval uncovered the Environment Minister's lack of correct legal process and proved the need for this law to remain in it's current form";
  • "Challenges have not been made inappropriately and the judicial system already ensures that this does and will not happen".

Recent media reports suggest, under new leadership, the Federal government will delay any further action regarding this matter until the New Year.

That gives us more time to call on Attorney-General George Brandis to not put coal projects above the law by removing public appeal rights from federal environment laws.