Image for Government House: Kate Warner honours the EDO ...

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Scenes from a reception ... guests included EDO’s Roland Browne and Jess Feehely, Christine Milne. writer Peter Boyer et al ...

ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS OFFICE TASMANIA
REMARKS BY
HER EXCELLENCY PROFESSOR THE HONOURABLE KATE WARNER AM
GOVERNOR OF TASMANIA
BALL ROOM, WEDNESDAY 28 OCTOBER 2015

Good evening everyone. My husband Dick and I warmly welcome you to this reception to mark the 20th anniversary of the Environmental Defenders’ Office Tasmania.

I’d like to acknowledge here this evening Roland Browne, EDO President and the EDO Management Committee; Principal Lawyer, Jess Feehely and the rest of the EDO team; and donors over the years. Also Senator Nick McKim, Green MPs Cassie O’Connor and Rosalie Woodruff and former Senators Bob Brown and Christine Milne.

Looking at the EDO’s key achievements over the 20 years is a good demonstration of its success in its objectives of: using the law; explaining the law; defending environmental law against excessive reforms; reforming environmental law and promoting it.

It shows the EDO has assisted a range of organisations over the last 20 years:  organic beef farmers; the St Helens Land Care Association; Birds Tasmania; Save Ralphs Bay; the Tarkine National Coalition, the Tasmanian Institute of Architects and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

The EDO uses litigation only as a last resort when satisfied that other options have been exhausted and legal action is in the public interest.  Even so, successful litigation over the last 20 years has included challenging a permit which compromised the habitat of the threatened Giant Velvet Worm; imposing stricter emissions on a wood fired boiler in central Launceston; reducing odour emissions on a rendering plant in Quoiba; relocating turbines at Musselroe Wind Farm; having conditions added to approval of mining operations at Riley Creek in the Tarkine and successfully reinstating restrictions on above ground storage of waste at the Nelson Bay River mine and opposing the removal of an early Ray Heffernan house from the Heritage Register. 

The EDO can list many achievements under the heading of Explaining the Law: it has now published three editions of the Environmental Law Handbook including an online version; two editions of Going it Alone – a guide for unrepresented litigants in the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal; the RMPAT Bulletin, a monthly summary of tribunal decisions; and the EDO Bulletin.  That latest publications are 2014 Community Guide to Mining Law and Lifting the Standards, a comprehensive guide to Tasmania’s planning and environmental laws with recommendations for law reform to improve their effectiveness.

The EDO has also organized many conferences; contributed to submissions to a range of government reform proposals as well as providing advice to groups and has provided responses to the five year reviews of the Regional Forest Agreement.

Promoting interest in Environmental Law amongst law students has been an ongoing goals of the EDO and this has been done very successfully through the summer internship program, practical legal placements and a new program for external volunteers which currently has over 40 participating students undertaking various research and drafting tasks.  It’s wonderful to see the EDO making use of this resource and I know how much law students appreciate this kind of opportunity.

Looking back over the last 20 years reveals a number of ups and downs in funding support from the Federal Government and clearly the current situation presents a considerable challenge to the EDO. So congratulations on your achievements; thank you to the donors and contributors who have played key role in the survival of the EDO and I wish you all the best for the next twenty years.

Now please enjoy the reception. Thank you.

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