Senate likely to block Abbott's Green law ‘over-reaction’

LAWYERS and green groups have dubbed the Abbott Government's plans to stop environmental appeals of mine approvals as an "over-reaction" to a recent court decision on Adani's Carmichael coal mine.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has painted the changes as a defence of jobs, despite repeating now-debunked claims of 10,000 jobs linked to the mine, when the actual figure was fewer than 2000 jobs.

The Senate also appears likely to block the changes; with Labor, The Greens and senators Nick Xenophon, Glenn Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie confirming their opposition on Wednesday.

Analysis released Wednesday by left-leaning lobby group The Australia Institute showed just 0.4% of the projects approved under national environmental laws had been challenged with such appeals.

Institute director and former Greens political staffer Ben Oquist said the government was trying to conflate the issue with "the serious problem of what has grown to 800,000 unemployed Australians".

The analysis showed of about 5500 projects that went through the approvals system since 2000, only 33 were taken to court by third parties and only six were "legally successful".

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It follows data released two weeks ago by the Environment Department in answers to Senate Estimates questions on notice, showing only nine projects were deemed "clearly unacceptable" and only 10 projects were not approved.

Australian Lawyers' Association Queensland president Rod Hodgson said the planned laws would also be "detrimental to the rights of ordinary citizens to hold government and large-scale projects to account".

He said the laws were working "exactly as they should".



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