Lawyers call for cool heads over Adani ruling

19th Aug 2015

Restricting the standing provisions of Australia’s national Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act would be to the detriment of the rights of ordinary citizens, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

ALA Queensland President Rod Hodgson said the move by Attorney-General George Brandis to restrict community access to the Courts on environmental matters was an “over-reaction” to the Federal Court’s Adani ruling.

“To restrict the standing provisions would be detrimental of the rights of ordinary citizens to hold government and large-scale projects to account,” Mr Hodgson said.

“These laws were introduced by the Howard government over 15 years ago and have been exercised by the community only a handful of times to challenge a small fraction of environmental approvals.”

“The laws are working exactly as they should when citizens access the Courts to ensure government decisions which affect us all are made in accordance with the law,” Mr Hodgson said.

“Too often the instinct of governments when they lose in Court is to restrict the rights of ordinary citizens.”

“But a healthy and robust democracy allows government decisions to be accountable to the people before an independent judiciary,” Mr Hodgson said.

“Let's not forget the backlash against the former Newman LNP government when it stripped away the rights of injured workers and environmental objectors in Queensland.”

“We urge the federal government to remain calm and abandon its proposal to restrict community rights,” Mr Hodgson said.

Tags: Access to justice