The Australian Conservation Foundation understands the Abbott government intends to repeal a section of the national environment law relating to who can bring legal challenges to commercial projects like coal mines.
“This move by the government is nothing short of an attempt to strip communities of their right to a healthy environment,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.
“Prime Minister Abbott and Attorney-General Brandis seem determined to strip Australians of the right to legitimate legal action to protect nature in this country.
“Communities have the right to a healthy environment and they can defend that right when a law hasn’t been followed.
“We’re not engaging in ‘lawfare’, Mr Brandis, we’re demanding fair law.
“We want to make sure approvals for projects, such as Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine, are above board and consistent with people’s right to a safe environment.”
The Federal Court recently overturned Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s approval of the Carmichael mine because the Minister made an error in the approval.
“In Australia we are faced with the sad situation of having a national government that seems hellbent on helping loggers, miners and big polluters damage nature.
“Thankfully Australia has many people and communities who are willing to stand up for our land, water and wildlife.
“Laws should not be changed to remove the ability for people to defend these rights.
“The truth is our national environment law, the EPBC Act, has prompted very little court action. While more than 5000 projects have been referred under this law, only 30 have been brought before the court for judicial review.
“This move to strip communities’ rights to challenge an approval under our national environmental law favours big polluters over communities and is an attack on people’s rights to clean air, clean water, fertile soil and thriving nature.”