EDO Bulletin 19/2016

waterfall-tarkine-tasmania-by-arwen-dyerAre you having trouble staying up-to-date on the latest developments in environmental law? Do you want to find out what the Federal Court ordered in the 4WD tracks case, or in the NT Port Melville case? Perhaps you are interested in finding out about some great events to get you out and about in this lovely Spring weather? Well, read our Bulletin for the the latest on these issues and more!

To subscribe to our Bulletin, click here.

Govt to refer 4WD tracks proposal following Full Court decision

Ordinance Point_Whish-Wilson - Tarkine 4WD -7008_Today the Chief Justice of the Federal Court handed down final orders in the Tasmanian Government’s appeal against a Federal Court decision that prevented the re-opening of 4WD tracks in the National Heritage-listed Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape (WTACL).

The Full Court, which had earlier found that works required to open the tracks were “actions” within the meaning of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, ordered that the case be remitted to Justice Mortimer for further consideration of the impacts of the actions on Aboriginal heritage values.

The Full Court recognised the important questions raised by the case and TAC’s success in its central contention. The Tasmanian Government will pay the TAC’s costs of the original hearing, and will bear their own costs of the appeal.

In a media release today, the Tasmanian Government has committed to consulting with the Aboriginal community and 4WD track users regarding planned works, and to referring the proposal to the Federal Minister.  Doing so could remove the need for a further hearing.

EDO Tasmania’s litigation lawyer, Claire Bookless, said:

The Full Court has confirmed the TAC’s central argument – that the works needed to open the 4WD tracks are “actions” and that such actions trigger the cultural heritage protections of the EPBC Act.  We welcome the Government’s commitment to referring the proposal, something that should have happened before the re-opening announcement was made in 2014.

TAC will continue to urge the Tasmanian government to abandon the proposal, particularly given the Government’s recent commitments to “resetting the relationship” with Tasmania’s Aboriginal community and to recognising the ongoing role of the community in the State’s Constitution.   Ms Bookless noted:

Consultation with the Aboriginal community, heritage experts and off-road drivers led to the closure of the tracks in 2012, and the Aboriginal heritage values of the area have since been formally protected by the WTACL national heritage listing. We hope that when Minister Groom rigorously assesses the impacts of any proposed works on the natural and cultural values of takayna, he recognises that the risks to these nationally significant values are simply too great to proceed with re-opening the tracks.

Media release 

EDO Tasmania would like to thank our legal team for achieving this outcome – Brian Walters QC, Tiphanie Acreman, Adam Beeson (for the original hearing) and Claire Bookless (for the appeal).

EDO Bulletin 18/2016

sunrise-tarkine-tasmania-by-arwen-dyerWondering what to do with all that extra daylight now the clocks have been wound forward?  Read our latest Bulletin to catch up on all things environmental law, and check out the many wonderful events coming up over the next few weeks.

To subscribe to the fortnightly Bulletin, click here.

Summer internships with EDO Tasmania

The Devil Lawyer_300114-1 copyEDO Tasmania invites law, planning, geography and politics students with a genuine interest in resource management issues, social justice and environmental law to apply for our 2016-2017 summer internship programme.  Internships are available during the following periods:

  • 5 – 16 December 2016
  • 9 – 20 January 2017
  • 6 – 17 February 2017

Internships provide opportunities to:

  • Develop an understanding of the Resource Management and Planning System;
  • Gain practical research and drafting experience;
  • Provide paralegal support in environmental court cases;
  • Contribute to policy and law reform projects in areas such as marine farming, environmental assessment, cultural heritage, mining and planning;
  • Learn more about the roles of different government agencies;
  • Assist in the preparation of environmental law resources;
  • Get an insight into working at a community legal centre;
  • Establish network contacts with planning and environmental law practitioners.

Preference will be given to students who have completed 4 – 5 years of their degree.

Click here for the 2016 Internship information pack (and application form).  Applications are due by 7 November 2016.

Okehampton Bay Salmon Farm submission

?????????????????????????????????Submissions to the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel’s review Tassal’s proposed salmon farming operations at Okehampton Bay closed today.

There is good reason for the Review Panel to look at the science underpinning the Great Oyster Bay and Mercury Passage Marine Farming Development Plan (the Plan). However, EDO Tasmania’s submission raised the following concerns about the efficacy of the review process:

  • despite the terms of reference focusing on the adequacy of the scientific information, much of that information has not been released to the public;
  • the terms of reference assume that Okehampton Bay is an appropriate location for salmon farming, rather than assessing whether this is the case;
  • Tassal already has the necessary authorities to proceed with salmon farming at Okehampton Bay, regardless of the outcome of the review process; and
  • the Tasmanian government is yet to release details of proposed changes to shift monitoring and enforcement responsibilities for salmon farming to the EPA.

EDO Tasmania’s submission highlights a number of changes that should be made to the Plan to improve the way that salmon farming activities at Okehampton Bay will be regulated.

To read EDO Tasmania’s submission, click here. For more information about the Review, click here.

Office stuff – free to a good home!

Following our recent office clean-out, we have a few bits and pieces that are surplus to requirements.  They’re free to a good home, so sing out if you’re interested in any of the following:

  • Large office desk with built-in drawers (black top, timber and metal frame)
  • Large grey laminate office desk without drawers
  • Large metal cupboard (1.2m high x 1.6m wide)
  • Smallish shredder (about the size of a wastepaper bin)
  • Four-drawer filing cabinet – old, but sturdy
  • Large white board
  • Black board
  • Loads of magazine boxes, ring-binders and stackable filing trays
  • Ream of A3 paper

Annual Report: highlights of a good year for EDO Tas

edo-annual-reportAt our recent AGM, Roland Browne, who has been the President of our Management Committee since we began, stepped down. Roland’s commitment and energy has been key to our survival and success over two decades, and we’re incredibly grateful to have had the benefit of his leadership.

Dr Tom Baxter has stepped into Roland’s big shoes, supported by an excellent, diverse committee.  To find out more about the committee, click here.

Read our Annual Report to find out what we’ve been up to in 2015-2016.  It’s been a good year, and we’re looking forward to the next one!

EDO Bulletin 17/2016

TassalWondering what the Federal Court decision in the takayna tracks case means?  Or whether the Director of National Parks has recommended changes to the Narawntapu Management Plan?  Or how you can make comments to the Okehampton Bay review?  Or when we’re finally going to hold the EDO quiz night?

Wonder no longer – check out the latest EDO Bulletin for all this and more.

Full Federal Court hands down decision in takayna tracks case

Ordinance Point_Whish-Wilson - Tarkine 4WD -7008_On 16 September 2016, the Full Federal Court handed down a unanimous decision in the Tasmanian Government’s appeal against Justice Mortimer’s earlier decision that the proposed re-opening of 4WD tracks in the Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape (WTACL) was an action that was likely to have a significant impact on indigenous heritage values.  Justice Mortimer’s ruling meant that the action could not proceed without approval from the Federal Environment Minister under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). 

The Full Court upheld the appeal, in that they found that Justice Mortimer had interpreted both “action” and the indigenous heritage values protected by the listing of the WTACL too broadly.  However, the Full Court also found that the approach advocated by the State Government was far too narrow.  The Full Court considered that, while declaration of the tracks was not an action under the EPBC Act, the works needed to open the tracks (including remediation works, re-routing tracks and installing culverts) would be actions.  The Full Court held that the values protected were limited to those values described in the listing documents, but acknowledged that other material could be referred to to give context to those values.

The Full Court directed the parties (the State Government, the Commonwealth Government (as intervener) and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre) to try to reach agreement on orders to give effect to its findings. The Full Court noted that nothing in its judgment should discourage the State Government from pro-actively referring the proposal to the Federal Minister for assessment under the EPBC Act.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Inc has consistently argued that the proposed works should be referred to the Federal Minister prior to any activity to re-open the tracks, and has urged the State government to take that course.

We will provide an update on the terms of any agreement reached by the end of the week. For a media statement about the decision, click here.  To read the full decision, click here.

EDO Tasmania thanks our wonderful legal team in this matter – Brian Walters QC, Tiphanie Acreman and Claire Bookless.

Threatened Species Day

This #ThreatenedSpeciesDay marks the 80th anniversary of the death of the last captive Tasmanian Tiger. In a judgment earlier this year (involving our colleagues at EDO NSW), Justice Pepper of the Land & Environment Court said:

The permanent exhibition dedicated to the Tasmanian Tiger at the Tasmanian Museum is a poignant memorial to, and a powerful reminder of, how easily and quickly a species can, through human intervention, vanish forever.

swiftiesOur report for the Bob Brown Foundation, “Critically Endangered, Under-Protected“, outlines a range of practical law reforms aimed at preventing this fate for the Swift Parrot and other critically endangered species. Now we just need the Government to act!

Image by First Dog on the Moon, courtesy BBF