The NSW Government has caved to the mining lobby and is attempting to interfere with the independence of our courts after a coal mine was rejected on climate change grounds.
The Environmental Defenders Office NSW won a landmark case for the Gloucester community in the NSW Land and Environment Court this year when the Court rejected the approval of the Rocky Hill Coal Mine because of the project’s failure to adhere to NSW laws about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.
The Court carefully considered the law, expert climate science and the impact of coal on climate change and decided that the overall impact of the mine would not in the public interest.
The Rocky Hill decision is the first time coal mine approval has been rejected by a court rejected because of its climate change impacts on the community. The historic precedent was expected to have wide-ranging impacts for Australian communities and to affect the approval of new climate change harm-inducing coal mines throughout Australia. In a win for communities affected by climate change in Australia, it has since been relied on by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) to reject and regulate new coal mines in NSW.
The decision was clearly made in accordance with the law, facts and public interest - for communities today and future generations.
Now, following pressure from the mining lobby, Planning Minister Rob Stokes and the NSW Government want to legislate around the Land and Environment Court’s landmark independent public interest decision, in favour of vested interests. They plan to introduce a new bill that will remove the legal requirement for climate change impacts to be considered in the assessment of new coal mines.
Courts are a critical part of our democracy. They are the last line of defence against unaccountable governments and corporate leaders. When courts make decisions in the public interest - consistent with the law and facts - politicians should not simply turn around and introduce legislation that does not serve the public interest.
But that’s not all, the Berijiklian Government is also considering moves to increase the power of politicians to approve coal mines by axing the Independent Planning Commission, the independent body which rejected the approval of the Rocky Hill mine in the first place.
Judges and commissioners should be able to make fair and well-reasoned decisions in the public interest based on all available facts, the science and the law.
The NSW Labor Party must vote against the Bill introduced by the Berijiklian Government and ensure the Independent Planning Commission is still entrusted to make decisions about mining which take climate change impacts and the public interest into account.
Sign the petition to call on NSW Labor Shadow Leader Jodi McKay and Shadow Minister for Planning Adam Searle to protect the independence of the courts by voting against the Bill.
To the Hon. Jodi McKay Leader of the Opposition and Hon. Adam Searle Shadow Minister for Planning and Better Living
We are very concerned about the Berijiklian Government’s plans to amend the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act to remove the climate change considerations recently applied to reject the Rocky Hill coal mine at the Independent Planning Commission and NSW Land and Environment Court.
Courts are a critical part of our democracy designed to check the power of governments and corporate leaders. No court or Commission should be restricted by a government from acting consistently with court precedent established in accordance with the law, the facts, and in the public interest.
The NSW Labor opposition must take a stand against attempts by the mining lobby to interfere with public interest court judgements, just because the outcome is contrary to their vested interests.
We urge you to protect our communities and to respect public interest decisions made by the courts.
We call on you to:
1. Protect the independent role of the courts in our democracy and ensure they can make decisions based on facts and law without risk of being undermined in favour of vested interests.
2. Reject any move to change the current law requiring the consideration of downstream emissions, which formed the basis of the Rocky Hill decision.
3. Protect the independence of the Independent Planning Commission and restore merits appeal rights for communities to the Court on coal and gas projects