News & Blog Posts · Nature & the Reef

Report gets it wrong; community has right to protect natural wonders

18 November, 2015

“EDO Queensland maintains standing is important for people to protect the environment and ensure government is accountable under the law.”

A Senate committee report that backs law changes removing the community’s right to challenge mining projects shows a lack of respect for Australians and the country’s judicial system, Environmental Defender’s Office Queensland (EDO QLD) CEO Jo-Anne Bragg said.

The Australian Environment and Communications Legislation Committee’s report released today backs the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015, which would severely restrict the rights of community members and groups to challenge matters of national environmental significance.

“EDO Qld is deeply concerned the Federal Government still plans to put coal mining ahead of community and the environment by repealing section 487 of the EPBC Act,” Ms Bragg said.

“How can they recommend changing this law when most of the 292 submissions to this inquiry from hardworking Australians opposed them?

“Section 487 of the EPBC Act, which environmental law expert Dr Chris McGrath has shown has been used to challenge less than 0.5% of developments, enables the community to stand up and ensure our environmental laws are enforced and complied with.

“If the law is not complied with, it is useless to protect the environment we love – our Great Barrier Reef, our endangered species and our internationally significant wetlands.

“Our client Australian Conservation Foundation is challenging the Federal Government’s approval of the Carmichael coal mine because it was unlawful and the government must be held to account.

“As a leading environmental law office, it is our responsibility to help ACF enforce the law to protect our Reef and vulnerable species.

“If the law is changed, this right is removed and the Federal Government will show a lack of respect for both the judicial system and the rights of the community.

“EDO Queensland maintains standing is important for people to protect the environment and ensure government is accountable under the law.”

To date, more than 4,000 people have signed EDO Qld’s petition asking Attorney-General George Brandis to say no to changing the EPBC Act.