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Loss of Living Wonders case proof Australia’s environment laws are broken

Today’s decision in the “Living Wonders” case must prompt immediate changes to failing federal environmental laws to include a “climate change trigger” if the Albanese Government is serious about protecting Australia from the effects of catastrophic global warming.  

The Federal Court today dismissed an appeal launched by the Environment Council of Central Queensland (ECoCeQ), through legal representatives Environmental Justice Australia (EJA), which focused on two of the 19 projects - MACH Energy’s Mt Pleasant and Whitehaven’s Narrabri Underground coal mines.

In an unusual situation, the Federal Court, despite dismissing the appeal, highlighted that it was the weakness of Australia’s national environmental laws that were the problem, stating that:

“Notwithstanding our conclusions on the grounds of appeal, the arguments on this appeal do underscore the ill-suitedness of the present legislative scheme of the EPBC Act to the assessment of environmental threats such as climate change and global warming and their impacts on Matters of National Environmental Significance in Australia.”

Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Carmel Flint said, “This court case demonstrates beyond all doubt that Australia’s environmental laws are broken and must be overhauled and made fit for the climate breakdown humanity is facing.

“The Federal Court itself has effectively indicated that its hands are tied legally, because our national environment laws are ‘ill-suited’ to an assessment of the severe threats posed by global warming.

“The Albanese Government needs to urgently heed this call and amend the laws to make climate change a key trigger that must be considered in assessments of projects.

“Unless those amendments are made, the current environment laws will facilitate the approval of new coal and gas projects that will blow Australia’s own climate targets and contribute to the devastation of our natural areas and unique landscapes.”

Boggabri Farmer Sally Hunter, who lives near Whitehaven’s planned Narrabri Underground expansion, said, “We’re calling on Tanya Plibersek to reject the Narrabri Underground coal mine, because of the severe direct impacts it will have on water resources and the environment in our region.  One business should not have the right to take away the water of another, under Australian laws, and that is exactly what this decision does. 

“We want to see amendments made to national environment laws as soon as possible so the gaping weakness this case has exposed are addressed, and the devastating climate impacts of this mine are properly considered.”


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