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Senate ‘must stop Abbott putting miners above the law’

Farmer Tony Clift points past bright yellow canola crops towards the location of the coal mining site near Gunnedah, Shenhua Watermark, a subsidiary of state-owned China Shenhua Energy, the world’s biggest coal mining company, spent 167 million Australian dollars (more than $170 million) to buy 43 farms covering 36,300 acres. Gunnedah's former mayor says sellers told him Shenhua paid several times market value. Clift's family has plowed the rich black soil of Australia’s Liverpool Plains for six generations. The thought of selling never crossed his mind - until the Chinese company came to town. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Farmer Tony Clift points past bright yellow canola crops towards the location of the coal mining site near Gunnedah, Shenhua Watermark, a subsidiary of state-owned China Shenhua Energy, the world’s biggest coal mining company, spent 167 million Australian dollars (more than $170 million) to buy 43 farms covering 36,300 acres. Gunnedah’s former mayor says sellers told him Shenhua paid several times market value. Clift’s family has plowed the rich black soil of Australia’s Liverpool Plains for six generations. The thought of selling never crossed his mind – until the Chinese company came to town. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

The Australian Greens are urging the Senate to block the Abbott government’s bill to gut public enforcement of environment law now being debated in the lower house.

Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens deputy leader and environment and climate change spokesperson, said:

‘Tony Abbott and George Brandis want to put big mining companies above the law and stop Australians who care about the environment and climate from upholding the law’ senator Waters said.

‘No matter where you live, all Australians especially farming communities, should have the right to hold big mining companies to the law, especially when the government has ignored those laws.

‘As even Alan Jones has said, it doesn’t matter where you live, you can “sure as hell” be concerned about the protection of places like the Great Barrier Reef and the Liverpool Plains.

‘Coastal communities, farming communities, lawyers, scientists and Australians everywhere agree – public enforcement of environment law is an essential public right and tenet of democracy.

‘Tony Abbott wants to stop communities from upholding the law so there’s nothing to hold him back from breaking the rules for his big mining mates at the expense of our environment and clean energy future.

‘We have amazing clean energy alternatives that don’t pollute the climate, the Great Barrier Reef or destroy precious farmland,’ senator Waters said.

According to Greens Member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, ‘Tony Abbott says no-one should have the right to enforce environment protection laws unless they’re “directly affected”.’

‘Does he expect plants, animals and the Great Barrier Reef to hire lawyers themselves?’ Mr Bandt quipped.

‘Desperate for a distraction from their own internal woes, the Abbott government has whipped up these laws that, if passed, will make it easier for their big mining mates to wreak havoc on our environment.

‘Instead of re-writing the law for the dying coal industry, Tony Abbott and his government should be investing in the job-rich clean industries of tomorrow, like renewable energy, IT and science,’  Mr Bandt said.

 


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