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Court’s ruling is a victory over Whitehaven’s Vickery coal mine and for Australian children

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley must reject Whitehaven’s Vickery coal mine near Boggabri or she will be in breach of her duty of care to protect Australian children from the harms of climate change, according to Lock the Gate Alliance and north west NSW farmers.

The Federal Court formally declared today that the Environment Minister has a duty “to avoid causing personal injury or death to persons who were under 18 years of age... arising from emissions of carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere”. 

Boggabri farmer and mother Sally Hunter said, “This is a great decision, and we implore Environment Minister Sussan Ley to do the right thing and reject Whitehaven’s Vickery Coal Mine expansion.

“We always felt that this project was the wrong mine at the wrong time. We knew it was going to harm not just the Namoi River, Kurrumbede Homestead, and the social fabric of Boggabri, but the world more broadly by further adding to catastrophic climate change.

“This judgement is recognition that this particular coal project will have a climate impact. That impact may not be huge on a global scale, but it is significant and relevant, especially when combined with other coal mines in the Namoi Valley and Liverpool Plains, and across Australia.

“Refusing the Vickery coal mine would help prevent our region from being locked into this finite industry. This judgement is a recognition that each and every one of these new mine proposals has a climate impact.  It gives the government a perfect opportunity to start in earnest with supporting our inevitable transition.

“I think this can create new and fantastic opportunities for our kids  - we can focus on renewable energy, supplying energy in new and exciting ways - there are fabulous, interesting and productive jobs that can come about as a result of this inevitable transition.

“Our community congratulates the teenagers who took on and won this historic case, and thanks to Sister Marie and their legal team.” 

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “There is no moral, legal or rational way now that Sussan Ley can approve this project. To do so would add momentum to catastrophic climate change which will harm every Australian child living today. 

“To have this duty of care clearly articulated and now enshrined in Australian law clarifies once and for all where duty lies. There is no argument in favour of a coal mining project that can override the lives and wellbeing of Australian children.”


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  • Nicola Chirlian
    commented 2021-07-08 12:37:41 +1000
    Wonderful news – many, many congratulations to all for your bravery and tenacity!!!!