Today we launch the Environmental Defenders Office, Australia’s new national, not-for- profit legal watchdog for the environment.
The Environmental Defenders Office will see eight state and territory EDOs join forces to become the largest community legal centre for the environment in the Asia-Pacific.
As a united organisation, we will take high-impact enforcement cases to the courts to make sure the public interest is upheld and our communities are properly protected by our environmental laws.
“The environmental problems facing Australia aren’t bound by state or territory lines,” said David Morris, CEO of the Environmental Defenders Office.
“The Murray-Darling crisis spans four jurisdictions. Our iconic koalas are dying right up and down the east coast. Climate change doesn’t stop at any border.
“Now more than ever, national leadership is required to protect Australia’s natural and cultural heritage. That’s where the new national EDO steps in.
Australia is one of the most naturally beautiful and biologically diverse places on Earth, but our environment is in decline.
There are more than 1,700 threatened species in Australia, we have lost more animals to extinction than any other country in the world.
And while the Australian community expects robust accountability and oversight when it comes to environmental protection, trust in government processes and institutions has eroded to an all-time low.
“Regulations are regularly not enacted or enforced. Governments have cut resources to departments that are supposed to monitor breaches of environment law,” David Morris said.
“Companies routinely and intentionally breach state and federal environment laws. The problem is systemic and widespread because there is no clear legal deterrent.
“As a merged, national organisation we can share expertise, more closely scrutinise projects and address the widespread culture of non-compliance with environment laws.”
The new EDO will have offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Perth and Sydney, with all state and territory EDOs finalising their merger process over the coming months.