NSW PREMIER ATTEMPTS TO SHUT DOWN PUBLIC ACCESS TO LEGAL ADVICE
Humane Society International (HSI) Campaign Director, Michael Kennedy, today called upon Premier O’Farrell to immediately commit his Government to restoring full and long-term funding to the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) in Sydney.
Mr Kennedy said “As the O’Farrell Government continues to dismantle good environmental policy and law in this state, it should not be unexpected that a concurrent target would be to deny a public right to free legal advice. While the Premier continues to flirt with the Shooters Party who, with the Energy Minister Chris Hartcher and Attorney General Greg Smith, seem intent on destroying this states foremost public environmental legal advisory service, a community policy disaster awaits.”
The EDO have been providing an essential public service for nearly 30 years (supported by Liberal and Labour Governments’ alike) offering expert comment on every environmental topic imaginable, assisting thousands of individuals and community groups to better understand, better act, and better conserve this state’s beleaguered natural environment. The O’Farrell Government’s tirade against the EDO is an attack on the public of New South Wales in favour of big business.
Mr Kennedy continued “It is clear that the Premier and a band of his Ministers are doing the bidding of the mining industry on one hand, while mouthing platitudes about public participation in new planning processes on the other. Planning Minster Brad Hazzard needs to step up and publicly show that he is serious about facilitating effective public involvement in planning and environmental processes, and ask the Premier and his wayward Ministers’ to back off and fully fund the EDO.”
HSI is a program of one of the world’s largest not-for-profit non-government organisations, with some 12 million members globally and 50,000 members in Australia. HSI has been the recipient of EDO’s help and advice over an 18 year period, and we have been able to see at first hand the contribution EDO has made in facilitating and empowering community participation in public planning processes, and consequently the development of first class environmental policy in this state.
Mr Kennedy concluded “Australia is at a crucial stage in the application of environmental law and policy in Australia, facing as it does increasingly conservative governments rolling back long-fought for environmental management gains, while the Gillard Government is on the precipice of a national environment disaster, handing back Commonwealth environment powers to the states and territories. The future does not look good. At a time like this, the Environmental Defenders Office must remain as a focal point of reference for a concerned public, desperate to be a part of future environmental planning processes. Premier O’Farrell must restore EDO’s full and long-term funding immediately.”