The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) has been another victim of the LNP Government’s ‘claw back the dollars attitude’ that appears to be focused on many aspects of community assistance or benefit. The withdrawal of a $97000 grant without appropriate notice presents a major financial challenge for this independent community legal centre. Currently demand for assistance from EDO is stretching the staff and resources to the limit. Unless this financial shortfall is plugged, the Queensland community will be the loser.
This legal centre was established in 1989 at the request of community groups. It is a not for profit organisation that provides advice and casework services on public interest environmental legal matters. It is managed by a volunteer multi-disciplinary board that focuses on priorities for EDO and its financial accountability.
EDO is not affiliated with any political party, no resources are ever used for political party purposes and EDO never endorses any political party or candidate for elected office.
The EDO not only handles case work but provides education through information sessions and its website. EDO also produces handbooks that give guidance and direction about the intricacies of cases and issues that may arise in the various court proceedings. The Community Litigants Handbook is one such example and another – Mining and Coal Seam Gas – Community Legal Handbook – is in the pipeline. Such efforts have been warmly received and acknowledged by officers of the Court.
The EDO has been responsible for helping shape and progress environmental law reform in Queensland. The EDO has helped those who are disadvantaged by a legal system that favours the well resourced. Without the EDO the state government would have to deal with a chaotic response from Queensland groups when it came to laws that dealt with community concerns.
The state government is undermining the community’s capacity and capability to protect its environment and well being.
This is not the first time Wildlife Queensland has lobbied governments for financial assistance for the EDO. Wildlife Queensland will be writing to the Hon Jarrod Bleijie MP Attorney-General and Minister for Justice seeking a review of this decision. Wildlife Queensland would encourage others to do the same.
In the interim, Wildlife Queensland will be contributing to the publishing costs of The Mining and Coal Seam Gas – Community Legal Handbook, from a funding source other than donations.
See the EDO special appeal website for more information on how to contribute towards The Mining and Coal Seam Gas – Community Legal Handbook.
For more information on Wildlife Queensland’s activities, call us on +61 7 3221 0194 or send us anemail.