A new opinion poll shows only 22 per cent of Australians support the Abbott government’s proposed environment law amendments to strip community groups of the right to challenge mining approvals in the courts.

“This poll shows the Abbott government is out of step with the Australian community,” said President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Geoff Cousins.

“Communities have the right to legitimate legal action to protect nature in this country when a law hasn’t been followed.

“When the government wrongly approves projects, like Environment Minister Greg Hunt did for Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine, people have democratic right to challenge that approval in the court,” he said.

“This attempt to strip communities’ rights to challenge an approval under our national environment law favours big polluters over communities and is an attack on people’s rights to clean air, clean water, fertile soil and a healthy natural environment.”

The government’s proposal to repeal a section of the national environment law relating to who can bring legal challenges to commercial projects like coal mines has been debated in parliament this week.  Submissions to a Senate inquiry close today.

The poll of 1,014 people across all states and territories, conducted by Lonergan Research on 28–31 August, also found:

  • 77 per cent believe Australians should be able to use environment laws to protect the environment
  • Almost three-quarters of Australians (72 per cent) say environment groups should be able to use the courts to ensure existing environment laws are upheld
  • Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of Australians say the Abbott government is targeting conservation groups by limiting their capacity to challenge approvals for mining projects and other major developments
  • Two in three Australians (59 per cent) say the Abbott government is undermining the independent role of the courts [by changing the law to prevent legal challenges]

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