After Federal Court Judge Mordecai Bromberg declared Environment Minister Sussan Ley has a “duty of care” on climate change during an anti-coal class action lodged by several school kids, the Minister has forcefully told him to back off.
Well done, Sussan!
Advance and our 141,000+ supporters applaud you for refusing to cave in and call on Judge Bromberg to step down for politicising the judiciary.
Judge Bromberg’s decision to impose a “duty of care” condition on the Environment Minister when it comes to the potential impact of approving new coal mines or extensions on the climate, is stupid at best, and an affront to democracy at worst.
Judge Bromberg’s arrogance in telling the Minister to advise him on her interpretation of the “duty of care” condition as an unelected judge is offensive to the millions of Australians who voted for the Coalition as their elected representatives at the last election.
Even better, the waste of taxpayer resources on the whole “duty of care” façade has become even more apparent after Minister Ley sent him the interpretation he requested after announcing the approval of Whitehaven’s extension project.
Ley argued the “duty of care” clause doesn’t apply to the mine extension because it won’t harm the environment or future generations – given other countries with dirtier and less energy-intensive coal would fill the gap if Australia doesn’t sell the additional coal to Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
As Managing Director of Whitehaven coal said, “if new coal mines are not built in Australia, that will be worse for a world trying to decarbonise. At face value, it might seem that if you shut down the Australian coal industry you will reduce global emissions. However, that ignores the strong likelihood that our high-energy, low-emissions coal – which is in such high demand – will be replaced by less efficient, more carbon-intensive coal produced by other countries.”
Perhaps as important was the Minister’s dismissal of what would have been an extremely dangerous legal precedent given the “judicial process is institutionally ill-suited...in responding to the policy challenge posed by anthropogenic climate change”.
To borrow the words of The Australian columnist Janet Albrechtsen, “what possible policy expertise can a judge or a handful of judges draw on to determine a nation’s climate change policy?
“Unlike ministers and their vast departments that can draw on consultants and experts from across any field, and parliaments with their myriad committees, judges rely on the claims made by a plaintiff and a defendant. You may as well entrust an ABC journalist to draw up the nation’s climate change policy.
“If unelected judges meddle in climate change policy, it undermines the ability of an elected government to govern.
“In a democracy, politicians and parliaments are entrusted to make policy for many sound reasons, not least of which is that they can be removed from office when they decide a policy that runs counter to the wishes of voters.
“It is a serious attack on democracy when Australian courts become playgrounds for climate activists who bet on finding a judge who will impose a climate policy different from that agreed by voters. If judges can’t see that, we should be grateful to Ley for pointing that out to them.”
Keep up the great work, Minister!
Although it may seem otherwise when watching the ABC, millions of Australians back you and your refusal to be bullied into shutting down our coal industry.