Cristy Clark writes in The Conversation (19.8.15) that the federal government’s proposed legislative changes to prevent green groups from using ‘lawfare’ threatens to ‘seriously curtail public interest litigation in Australia’.
‘A key feature of authoritarianism is that the government is above the law – it is not accountable to the people for its actions. In contrast, under a democratic system, the rule of law means that the government is constrained by law and can be held accountable by the people.
‘This is particularly pertinent to the move by Attorney-General George Brandis to restrict green groups from challenging major developments under federal law, a direct response from this month’s successful appeal against the approval of the controversial Carmichael coal mine, being developed by the Adani Group, on environmental grounds.
‘… The government’s use of the term “lawfare” is inflammatory, but even if it were a correct descriptor it would be a classic David and Goliath battle. If mining companies are free to use their financial clout to both lobby the government and challenge unfavourable decisions in court, while the government itself has a track record of significant bias towards industry, shouldn’t the community also have the right to at least challenge decisions that clearly breach the law?’