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Law Reform · Access to Justice

Committee Report into Register of Environmental Organisations shows division

04 May, 2016

Despite a lack of credible evidence, the majority of Committee members recommended environmental groups with deductible gift recipient status be required to focus 25%+ of public funds on environmental remediation work.

The Report of the House of Representatives Committee undertaking the Inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations was tabled today. The Report shows the Committee members were divided in their recommendations.

Despite a lack of credible evidence to support their views, the majority of the Committee members recommended that environmental groups with deductible gift recipient status (DGR status) should be required to focus at least 25 per cent of their annually received public funds towards environmental remediation work.

Chief Executive Officer and Solicitor of EDO Qld, Jo Bragg said: "The majority of the Committee report, in suggesting there be a minimum of 25% of funds spent on environmental remediation, ignores the wealth of evidence provided to them from community groups across the country about the importance of advocacy work to effectively protect the environment.

"It makes no sense to draw a line between advocacy work and remediation or ‘on-ground’ work. Take the example of a development that would destroy koala habitat.  

"EDO Qld lawyers might provide legal education or legal advice to help a community group successfully argue for a condition of approval that the developer not clear koala habitat.

"That advice and advocacy leads to real environmental outcomes - preservation of  koala habitat - which is equally as important for nature as remediating by planting tiny saplings on a cleared field.

"We are glad to see that the Labor Committee members, and independent MP Mr Jason Wood, dissented from the majority Committee, recognising that  ‘no disinterested evidence was adduced’ during the inquiry to demonstrate the need to distinguish between advocacy and ‘on ground’ environmental activities when providing DGR status.

"EDOs, in providing legal education, law reform submissions and legal advice and representation to the community, help protect the environment  and provide access to justice.

"EDOs help their community clients ensure that industry complies with environmental laws, which better protects nature and which encourages respect for the law."

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

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