Law Reform · Access to Justice

Help us restore objection rights for people like Bruce and Annette

23 June, 2015

Bruce Currie and his wife Annette are true Aussie farmers who have battled the odds over the years, surviving floods and recent droughts. Now the Curries face their biggest challenge yet.

The family runs a cattle property in central Queensland and fear that the impacts of nearby coal mining on the groundwater running through their property would destroy their business, their livelihood and their home.

To make matters worse, changes to community objection rights last year mean, legally, they might not even get a say on the matter.

“The only one who benefits (from the changes) is the mining industry,” Mr Currie said.

“Communities and individuals who have pride in their area, take responsibility for the stewardship of our country and want to be involved in decisions should be commended, not punished by having their rights taken away.

“The stewardship of any country is the responsibility of the whole community and certainly not just the government of the day,” he said.

Last year the former state government significantly reduced legal rights for landholders and the general community by removing community rights to object to the biggest mines.

Prior to October 2014, the law allowed any person or group to object to an environmental authority for a mine, and then have their objection heard in open court.

Under changes to the State Development Public Works Organisation Act 1971, which were rushed through late at night without notice, the Coordinator General has the power to stop objections from being referred to the Land Court. This was despite evidence before the relevant parliamentary committee of the importance of the rights, as well as evidence from the Land Court and from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection that the objections process had not been used for vexatious purposes.

Other changes to the law were also passed that limit objection rights to mining leases - but these have not yet come into force. If they do, the community’s right to have their say on these mines will be curtailed even further.

It’s not too late to stop these changes being implemented. EDO Qld is currently putting pressure on the state government to restore your rights, but we need your help!

We are currently drafting a proposed Bill to present to the Queensland Government that will restore mining objection rights and ensure that no potential objectors have lost their rights since the changes were made.

Together, we can restore community objection rights for people, like our friends Bruce and Annette. YOU CAN HELP by making a donation to www.edoqld.org.au/donate 

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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