carmichael 15 September 2016

Why this matters

Losing our court case was a sad moment for our community. But we went into this knowing that if we lost, it would put the wheels in motion for something far greater.

Since we launched our campaign to stop Adani’s mine and protect the reef, thousands of people in the ACF community have spoken out, stood up and given generously. Thank you so much for sticking with us through thick and thin. I know you’re in it for the long haul.

Know, that right now, the world is at a turning point and you’re on the right side of history.

Losing our court case was a sad moment for our community. But we went into this knowing that if we lost, it would put the wheels in motion for something far greater.

The court’s decision puts a spotlight the size of Adani’s giant mine on the inadequacy of our environment laws. And it puts in stark perspective a system that is fundamentally broken.

In our case, the Federal Court found our national environment laws grant “the Minister, and the Minister alone” the right to ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence and come to the conclusion that 4.6 billion tonnes of climate pollution from the mine would have “no relevant impact” on the Great Barrier Reef.

If it wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable.

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Our laws effectively give Adani a licence to kill our reef, pollute our air and leave us and future generations with the mess and the cleanup bill.

Unbelievably, global warming doesn’t even get a mention in our national environment law – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity (EPBC) Act.

This isn’t good enough. Australians expect better.

Australia’s environment laws are stacked in favour of big polluters like Adani. These companies use profits from polluting to wine, dine and donate to the elected representatives who decide whether their dirty, damaging projects go ahead.

Unsurprisingly, our elected representatives often choose to put the profits of polluters, like Adani, before the best interests of the community and the future of our reefs, rivers, forests and wildlife.

Australia’s environment laws are far too weak to protect against this vicious cycle of pollution, profit and political influence.

That’s why we’re breaking the cycle. We’re organising people to stand up to organised money and vested interests.

We won’t settle for weak laws and short-term thinking for the short-term profits of a greedy few.

We don’t accept the story that we must sacrifice nature for a quick buck.

And we won’t stop until our government passes a new generation of environment laws that protect our air, water and wildlife, not the vested interests, the coal charlatans or the big polluters.

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Like the fight to save the Franklin River, challenging approval of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine is a critical moment in the history of protecting Australia’s environment.

But it runs even deeper than that. Whether or not this mine goes ahead will have an immense impact on our future.

It would be the biggest coal mine in the Southern Hemisphere. And it is one of a small handful of projects that threaten life on Earth – along with the Canadian tar sands, Brazil’s deep water oil, and oil drilling in the Arctic.

These gigantic polluting coal, oil and gas projects cannot proceed if we want life to thrive.

People can choose a different future. And we already are.

Communities in Canada and the US stopped the proposed Keystone pipeline that would pump destructive tar sand oil from Canada. People in Brazil are building a community force to stop dangerous fracking and drilling. A global outcry has held back oil drilling in the Arctic.

And in Victoria, the government just permanently banned gas fracking after the community stood up, spoke out and got organised.

Together we have the collective power to say to the big polluters and their political enablers – we will stand in your way, whether it is in the courts or the streets, in an MP’s office, in the forecourt of your bank or on a billboard – we won’t give up until the system changes and Australia’s environment laws actually protect Australia’s environment.

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Power starts with us. Right in our communities. It starts with conversations with your neighbours and locals. It grows every time you tell your local representative what you care about. It builds when you and your community come together to demonstrate. And it becomes a force to be reckoned with when we bring communities together across the country to act.

Last week, the judge acknowledged that there was considerable public interest in our case, citing the size of ACF’s 340,000-strong community and the extent of public support.

Right now, we’re ramping up the pressure on our new Federal Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg. He has a choice – he can represent the people and choose our reef, or he can keep pandering to the polluters who are destroying our air, water and wildlife. We intend to make sure he makes the right one.

In communities Minister Frydenberg pays close attention to, we’re organising people to speak out and stand up.

We’re putting the choice between the reef and coal in front of the Minister every day with billboards funded by you in Canberra where Parliament is sitting and in the Minister’s electorate of Kooyong.
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Across the country, people are calling and writing to their local Member of Parliament, asking them to raise this issue in Parliament or speak to Minister Frydenberg personally, to amplify our voices inside the halls of power. You can call your MP now.

And we’re looking into whether we can appeal the Federal Court’s decision to dismiss our case before the deadline at 5pm on Monday.

“In the end our society will be defined not only by what we create but by what we refuse to destroy,” – Edward O. Wilson

If you want to know more about the case, you can read our Legal Counsel Elizabeth McKinnon’s blog explaining the significance of the court case and judge’s decision. If you really want the detail, you can read the full, 67-page judgement.

Together, let’s show up, speak out and act for a more beautiful world.

Kelly O'Shanassy

CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation.