Lawyers warn on Rudd and Abbott no show on environment

Media Alert 3 September 2013

Leading lawyers and legal academics have today cautioned Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott about the looming extinction crisis and the need to commit to ensuring federal environment laws aren't weakened at the request of big business.

In an open letter, signed by legal professionals from around the country, lawyers have called on Abbott and Rudd to hold the line on laws to protect Australia's iconic wildlife and wild places, citing poor state government management of the environment, and warning of a host of legal issues, should the Federal Government contract environmental management out to the states.

“Following a strong community campaign, Prime Minister Gillard last year withdrew plans to devolve decision making powers to the States. Yet, less than a week out from the election, with no environment policies from the major parties, Mr Rudd has not confirmed the ALP's commitment to prevent environment laws being dramatically weakened in a handover to state governments,” said Lauren  Caulfield, Lawyers for Forests.

“Meanwhile, Mr Abbott remains committed to allowing a 'one stop chop' of the nation's forests and wild places," said Ms Caulfield.

“In contrast, the Greens today released their costed policy to strengthen the nation's environment laws to meet the looming extinction emergency”

"We have already seen in the disastrous Regional Forest Agreements experience, and in the recent Supreme Court litigation to challenge WA Premier Barnett's unlawful approval for a gas hub at Broome's James Price Point, that putting the states in charge of our environment is a disaster for our wildlife and wild places," said Friends of the Earth Campaigns Coordinator, Cam Walker.

"Australia is facing an extinction crisis, and our iconic environment and wildlife need stronger, not weaker environment laws,” said Mr Walker.

For more information:

Cam Walker (Campaigns Coordinator, Friends of the Earth) 0419 338 047
Brendan Sydes (Lawyer/CEO, Environment Defenders Office) 0439 355 747
Lauren Caulfield (Vice President, Lawyers for Forests) 0408 748 93