Responding to a question in the House of Representatives, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he would repeal a section of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, which gives environmental activists the ability to challenge approvals. Recently, environmental activists managed to stop Adani’s Carmichael coal project in central Queensland after it had received approval from the government to move forward.
PM’s plan to weaken ‘lawfare’.
The Adani coal mine has been ‘legally sabotaged’ by ‘green groups’, says the Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
George Christensen, a member of parliament who represents the Queensland region where most of the large coal mines operate, asked, “Could you update the House on how the government is acting to protect jobs against extreme green ‘lawfare’ whilst ensuring the highest environmental standards are maintained?”
Abbott reminded the lower house that his administration is about creating jobs and, subject to the Water Act, Australia had substantially improved the environmental approval process. “Thanks to the good work of this government, particularly the Minister of the Environment, we have halved the time taken for environmental approvals,” Abbott said.
Addressing the Speaker of the House, Abbott said, “I regret that some green groups are doing their best to sabotage investment in Australia. We want the highest environmental standards to apply to new projects in Australia. Once those standards have been met, those projects must be allowed to proceed.”
The Carmichael mine in central Queensland, Abbott explained, is a $20 billion investment that will create 10,000 jobs, providing power for 100 million Indians for 50 years. “It’s good for jobs. It’s good for global development. And it’s good for the environment because Australian coal burns cleaner than the alternatives,” Abbott said.
Abbott believes the Carmichael mine has been “legally sabotaged” by green activists running a strategic campaign against the coal industry and all large developments. “This government will repeal section 487 of the EPBC Act, which gives activists the standing to sabotage decisions,” Abbott said.
Australia’s attorney general, Sen. George Brandis, said radical green activists have engaged in vigilante litigation to stop important economic projects. “Section 487 of the EPBC Act provides a red carpet for radical activists who have a political, but not a legal interest, in a development to use aggressive litigation tactics to disrupt and sabotage important projects,” Brandis said. “The activists themselves have declared that that is their objective — to use the courts not for the proper purpose of resolving a dispute between citizens, but for a collateral political purpose of bringing developments to a standstill, and sacrificing the jobs of tens of thousands of Australians in the process.”
The federal Labor Party has shown that it cares more about jobs than inner-city greens, Brandis said. The legislation will be introduced into the Parliament for passage through the House of Representatives.