Don’t Deny Environmentalists Their Right to Protest

Great_Barrier_Reef_by_NASA

Target: Australian Attorney-General George Brandis

Goal: End efforts to take away the right to challenge an environmentally questionable development.

In Australia, several key government officials are working to rescind laws that allow the right to protest. Supported by industrial lobbyists, these politicians are attacking a law that allows environmental activists to challenge controversial decisions, meaning that the oil and gas industries will be able to mine and frack without facing resistance from concerned groups or citizens.

In recent months, Attorney-General George Brandis announced his decision to repeal a section of Australia’s conservation laws that granted environmentalists the power to challenge projects and developments that might negatively impact the environment. This move comes on the heels of a Queensland conservation group’s successful challenge against the construction of the Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland. The group argued that the government had failed to consider the impact of construction on a couple of endangered species – the ornamental snake and the yakka skink.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a vocal supporter of the Carmichael project, stated that it would be “tragic for the wider world” if future projects were shut down due to being “endlessly frustrated” by environmentalists. In other words, Mr. Abbott is unhappy that the project was justifiably cancelled, so he is changing the law to prevent his citizens from voicing their displeasure. Australian Greens, an environmental political party in Australia, called the move an “attack on democracy.” In a statement released through their spokesperson, the party claimed “Senator Brandis has become the first ever Attorney-General who wants less enforcement of the law. Our national environment law protects our most important natural icons and wildlife.”

Fortunately for environmentalists, the proposal has already begun to face obstacles. A recent committee report has questioned the law’s effectiveness, arguing that its implementation would lead to the “inability of the courts…to undertake their constitutional role.” The committee also indicated that the government has given little justification for this new law. While this bodes well, the right to protest questionable projects may still be in jeopardy. Sign the petition letter below and show the Australian government that this proposal is unlawful and must be struck down.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Attorney-General Brandis,

The attempts to appeal a conservation law, which allows third party environmental groups to appeal approvals for big developments that jeopardize the environment, are short-sighted and demonstrate a lack of understanding about the environment. In defense of your decision to support this movement, you argued that only individuals directly affected by a development, such as landowners, should have the right to submit an appeal. This reasoning ignores the fact that massive developments, such as the Carmichael coal mine, affect the entire planet, not just the land upon which they are built.

Projects like the Carmichael mine have the potential to disrupt and even destroy precious ecosystems, such as the Great Barrier Reef. While the groups that protest may not live or operate on the land in question, they at least can understand that pollution has a global impact. I urge you to please reconsider your position on this conflict.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: NASA

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350 Signatures

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