Environmentalists are “Vigilantes and saboteurs”

This is extraordinary. Rattled by the Federal Court overturning approval of the Carmichael Coal Mine, the government plans to rush a bill through Parliament tomorrow to rip out the laws that allow Australians to challenge dangerous projects – like new coal mines – in court.

Our national nature protection laws were introduced by the Howard government to provide sensible checks and balances.

Yet our current Prime Minister calls the Mackay Conservation Group’s legitimate legal challenge to the Carmichael Coal Mine sabotage. And Attorney-General George Brandis calls environment groups vigilantes.

The Australian Government wants to make it easier for big polluters to pollute and damage life, and harder for Australia to become powered by clean renewable energy. We want a society powered by clean energy that protects life and empowers communities.

Thankfully, many people and communities are willing to speak up for the places and wildlife they love and depend on.

The Places You Love alliance – who I stood with at an emergency press conference this morning – represents 1.5 million Australians.

We’re working together to mobilise supporters and you have a critical role to play as a part of this huge alliance. It’s time to up the ante.

Will you email your local Member of Parliament and tell them you care about protecting our land, water and wildlife? Say you want them to protect the community’s legal right to challenge government decisions to approve massive coal projects that fuel global warming and damage life.


Tens of thousands of ACF supporters took action last week, and together, we can get the emails rolling in to Members of Parliament all across the country.

It’s just a small handful of politicians – fuelled by greedy coal lobby groups – who are trying to take away the voice of our communities.

Today’s action by the Abbott Government is part of the big polluters campaign to revoke environment groups’ charity status and remove your ability to give tax deductible donations and raise funds to challenge big polluters. The Abbott Government is using the language of terrorism to describe reasonable people working within the laws of our country.

The Guardian said the Abbott Government war on green ‘saboteurs’ is Laurel and Hardy slapstick – but the consequences are severe.

National environmental law exists for a reason – to protect the life, land, water and wildlife.

The truth is our national environment law, the EPBC Act, has prompted very little court action. While more than 5000 projects have been referred under this law, only 27 have been brought before the court for judicial review.

Governments should welcome public transparency and scrutiny of polluting and damaging industrial developments.

The Australian Government’s extreme reaction to the Federal Court’s decision against the development of the Carmichael Coal Mine make it clear – it’s time for a new generation of environmental laws. We need a healthy and robust nature protection framework that can’t be exploited by big polluters.

To find out more about the campaign, you can listen to my interview with ABC radio this morning.

Local people have the courage to protect the places, water and wildlife Australians love and depend on from the big polluters. And it’s up to us to keep this right alive.

Will you send an urgent email today to your representative in Parliament? Tell them you’re from their electorate and you want them to protect Australia’s environmental law.


Thanks for all you do,


Geoff Cousins
Australian Conservation Foundation

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