What we do
We are lawyers who are experts in using the law to protect Australia’s natural environment.
We deliver environmental justice to Australian communities and the long term health of the Australian environment.
We work in two ways. We take cases to court, and we work to make our environmental laws better.
Shareholder rights and the Commonwealth bank
We are working on a landmark case on shareholder rights with the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility. Our case will test whether shareholders can make their views known to the board on how the company is being run, through a vote. Shareholders in the US and the UK can do this and we think Australian shareholders should have the same rights.
This case was a test case to get cattle out of the precious Alpine National Park and ensure the National Parks Act actually works to protect national parks.
Protection for threatened species
We brought a test case on behalf of Environment East Gippsland, successfully forcing the government to prepare plans for the protection of Victorian threatened species.
“Our threatened wildlife should have action statements prepared for their protection and survival, but the Victorian government had not prepared these for almost 400 species. For as long as 20 years, many listed species were sliding further toward extinction.”
“Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Felicity Millner represented us on behalf of four East Gippsland species including the glossy black cockatoo, the long-nosed potoroo, the large brown tree frog and the eastern she oak skink. The government settled rather than go to court, promising to produce the action statements as soon as possible.”
- Jill Redwood, environmental activist and founder of Environment East Gippsland
Protecting habitat for the Latham’s Snipe
Our representation of a community group in VCAT saved the home of a wading bird
“For 14 years, we’ve been fighting to protect a local wetland area that forms important habitat for a shy migratory bird called the Latham’s Snipe from a large housing development. We had the important local knowledge about the area, but we needed legal representation and expertise to ensure we could put our case in the strongest possible way.”
“Environmental Justice Australia provided that assistance, representing us before VCAT and arranging an ecologist and water engineer to prepare expert witness reports and give evidence at the hearing. The most recent hearing, in April, saw a partial victory, with the tribunal ordering a reduction in the number of lots to be developed and conditions such as a protective fence around the snipe habitat.”
“The only home worth having on these parts of the site is the one that’s already there — the home of a wading bird. It’s a better outcome, and one that couldn’t have been achieved without representation and advice from Environmental Justice Australia.”
- Don Stewart, South Beach Wetlands and Landcare Group
Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry
“When the Hazelwood Coal Mine caught fire in February 2014, clouds of toxic smoke were released over our town of Morwell, and the whole Latrobe Valley. Environmental Justice Australia helped to get a formal inquiry into the fire. Residents were sure there had been a spike in deaths – but we didn’t know how to make the government investigate this. EJA represented us, showing us how to get the Premier to take our concerns seriously, and get the inquiry re-opened to investigate them. The Inquiry then found that it WAS probable a spike in deaths had occurred due to the air pollution from the fire.”
- Wendy Farmer, Voices of the Valley
Carmichael mine Land Court Case
With our representation, an Indian environment group was able to lodge an objection to the mine with the Land Court of Queensland, explaining how coal pollutes the air, water and land of poor Indian communities.
“Indian coal giant Adani is planning to build what will be the southern hemisphere’s biggest coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. They say that shipping the coal to India will help allieviate poverty, but the truth is that India’s rural poor can’t afford the electricity that will be generated – all they’ll get will be damage to their health and the air, water, land and natural resource base on which their survival depends.
Environmental Justice Australia represented us before the Queensland Land Court in an objection to the mine. Without Environmental Justice Australia, we could never have had our concerns heard.”
– Debi Goenka of the Conservation Action Trust, Mumbai, India
Dual Gas Power station case
The VCAT case we brought with Environment Victoria and Locals Into Victoria’s Environment stopped a new coal-fired power station being built in the Latrobe Valley.
The case itself was described as “once in a decade case”, and resulted in findings that meant that climate change has to be a key part of any decisions about large carbon polluting developments.
Changing the law
All Australians would benefit from environmental laws that truly protect our environment. Our expert lawyers are very clear on what we need:
National climate change laws that set Australia on a path of genuine emission reduction .
Protection for nature with strong and effective laws at all levels of government.
Community health, wellbeing and participation in environmental protection enshrined in our laws.
That’s why our lawyers advocate for better environmental laws at national and state level. Our lawyers have the expertise to develop solutions to complex legal problems. They know how to achieve real change by meeting with policy makers, presenting evidence at Parliamentary inquiries and government hearings, and working with the conservation sector and grassroots groups to advocate for change.