Media Releases · Energy & Climate

Government hands mining giant free pass from environmental laws

17 October, 2007

“It is an outrage that proper legal process can so readily be swept aside to suit political motives.” Anita O’Hart, solicitor

Last night the Queensland Government passed special legislation to override a decision of the full Queensland Court of Appeal relating to the assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from a coal mine expansion.

The Court of Appeal decision was delivered last Friday. Due to a breach of natural justice it set aside and ordered a rehearing of a recommendation of the Land and Resources Tribunal that an extension of a large coal mine 130km west of Mackay be allowed to proceed without conditions regulating its greenhouse gas emissions. The government justifies its special legislation on the basis of saving jobs.

Anita O’Hart, from the EDO QLD and solicitor for the Queensland Conservation Council in the recent Court of Appeal climate change appeal, says:

“It is misleading for the government to say that their special legislation is to save jobs. The laws relating to the assessment and approval of coal mines have been in existence for some time and already require a detailed assessment of both the environmental impacts and economic benefits of proposed mines in Queensland.

It is hard to envisage a project or development that does not involve jobs. Will they all be excused from proper assessment and legal process?

“When announcing the introduction of the special legislation the Premier implied that the legislation was necessary to overcome a “legal technicality” – it sounded as if someone had forgotten to cross a “t” or stamp a form twice. The legal technicality that the Premier spoke of was in fact a unanimous decision by the full Queensland Court of Appeal that QCC had been denied natural justice. Does the Premier consider natural justice a legal technicality?

“The government argues for a consistent approach to assessing coal mines, but at the same time it specifically excludes one individual mine from an assessment according to the law.

“This is a dangerous precedent and a blow to the sensible consideration of greenhouse gas emissions as part of the assessment process. Political pressure from a large multi-national company should not be allowed to frustrate proper legal process.”