Human and environmental rights are being violated, Senate Inquiry hears today

Published: February 17, 2016

The State Government and mining industries are violating Queenslanders’ human and environmental rights, the Senate Inquiry into Unconventional Gas Mining heard today at Dalby in the Darling Downs.

Shay Dougall, a mother-of- two, lives at Hopeland in the Western Downs, a region surrounded by invasive coal seam gas (CSG) and underground coal gasification (UCG) projects.

In evidence before the enquiry, Mrs Dougall said international law recognised the interdependence between human rights and the integrity of the environment.

She said the State Government was complicit in human rights violations by allowing third parties to violate the rights of locals by failing to create and implement policies to protect them and by failing to act on regulation.

Mrs Dougall cited in her submission the Guide on Rights-Based Advocacy: International Human Rights Law and Fracking, produced by the Sisters of Mercy (NGO), Mercy International Association, a group who have consultative status with the United Nations.

She said there was a growing understanding that:

“Human rights law … recognizes that human rights and environmental protection depend on each other.  To enjoy human rights fully, it is necessary to have a safe and healthy environment; and to have a safe and healthy environment, it is critical to protect human rights.

“Environmental degradation can and does adversely affect a broad range of human rights.”

Mrs Dougall said states were required to adopt measures against environmental health hazards such as creating and implementing policies to reduce and eliminate air and water pollution.  They must also take measures to prevent third parties from violating the right to health of others by enacting or enforcing laws to “prevent the pollution of water, air and soil by extractive and manufacturing industries.”

Violations people of the Western Downs were suffering include:

  • damage to potable water
  • damage to the atmosphere and environment rendering people’s homes unsafe
  • refusal of the government to partake in researching and development assurances of the health impacts of unconventional gas mining
  • refusal to allow the complaint process to run its full course and removing people’s rights to participate in the process
  • lack of baseline and ongoing testing to ensure the safety of the food grown in the unconventional gas mining environment

“We have begged our local, state and federal governments to listen to the people and act,” she said.

See Senate hearing details here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Gasmining/Gasmining

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