The Abbott Government’s move against environmental law is an unjustified overreaction according to a review of legal action under the EPBC act by The Australia Institute.

3rd party appeals to the Federal Court have only affected 0.4% of all projects referred under the legislation. 

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“Proper third party appeals – which have affected 0.4% of projects are being conflated with the serious problem of what has grown to 800,000 unemployed Australians, ,” Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Ben Oquist said.

“Tony Abbott’s attempt to distract from his economic management failings also risks a federal corruption blow out.

The major review conducted by NSW ICAC reported in 2012 called for strengthening anti-corruption safeguards, including:

“…ensuring transparency, reducing complexity, meaningful community participation and consultation, and expanding the scope of third party merit appeals.”

Since the EPBC Act commenced in July 2000:

  • approximately 5500 projects have been through the EPBC process
  • only 33 have been taken to the Federal Court by third parties:

The proceedings only related to 22 (or 0.4%) projects referred under the EPBC act.

“Of the 33 actions, four were discontinued or resolved with the consent of the parties and six were ‘legally successful’, in the sense that the applicant received a judgment and/or orders in its favour.

“All other cases were legally unsuccessful. 

“A review of these statistics illustrate the roll of third parties in enforcing public rights under the EPBC Act has been very limited. 

“If Tony Abbott wants to restrict appeal rights exclusively for national organizations, he’s essentially making appeals for ‘NIMBY’ purposes only. 

“Do only Queenslanders care about the reef? Did only Tasmanians benefit from saving the Franklin?

“The job of the PM should be to unite the country – Abbott doesn’t seem to understand that Australians care about Australia, not just their own back yard.

“Abbott’s attack on the appeal right of Australians is without regard for anti-corruption safeguards, the fact and figures or his own double-standards,” Oquist said.

*In several instances, there were multiple court proceedings in relation to the same action – for example, the Bell Bay pulp mill and Port Phillip Bay dredging.

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