NSW Labor welcomes federal decision to save the NSW Environmental Defenders’ Office

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The NSW Opposition has welcomed the Rudd Government’s decision to contribute an additional $300,000 a year to the NSW Environmental Defenders’ Office.

Shadow Environment Minister Luke Foley said the funding was a lifeline for the Office after Barry O’Farrell slashed its core annual funding by $400 000. 

“I am relieved that Attorney General Mark Dreyfus has intervened to save NSW from one of Barry O’Farrell’s most shameful cuts,” Mr Foley said.

“The Environmental Defenders’ Office is a vital resource for concerned citizens seeking advice about rampaging local developments – and contemplating actions against commercial interests with deep pockets.

“In recent years, the Office has served as a check on the green-lighting of coal seam gas mining across huge swathes of NSW.

“Its dedicated staff carry out vital research and policy development functions, and raise community awareness of our environmental laws.

“Successive NSW Governments respected the role of the Environmental Defenders’ Office – and backed it with the resources to do its work.

“That was until Mr O’Farrell came along.

“When the O’Farrell Government slashed funding for the Environmental Defenders’ Office earlier this year, it claimed it was redirecting money for environmental cases to Legal Aid.

“Yet just this week, the Government has abolished Legal Aid support for public interest environmental cases – such as logging, mining and pollution breaches.

“Under Mr O’Farrell, the pendulum has swung too far in favour of Goliath over David. This is a Government that has tilted the playing field towards big industry in its environmental skirmishes with local communities.

“This announcement will go some way towards restoring the integrity of our State’s environmental protections – it’s a win for citizens and nature against the power of money and influence.”