MERCURY

A FLOOD of donations will enable Greens leader Bob Brown to pay off a legal debt that threatened his Senate seat. Senator Brown owes Forestry Tasmania $240,000 after a failed legal bid to stop logging in the Wielangta forest in Tasmania’s southeast. If he failed to pay the bill by the end of the month and was declared bankrupt, he would have been disqualified from the Upper House. Senator Brown said he had been overwhelmed by the response to his public appeal for help earlier this week and will now be able to get back into the black. He said over 1000 people had made donations to his cause, mostly small amounts between $10 and $100. However, there was one $10,000 donation he knew about and he also sold one of his artworks for $20,000 to help fund the legal battle. “It really just shows how strongly people are concerned about the forests and the wildlife in them,” Senator Brown said. A managed pool of Govt money should be available to fund court cases that are in the public interest, a law expert says. Read more here

Cash poll plan
University of Tasmania senior law lecturer Michael Stokes said that would allow ordinary Australians to take legal action against governments when it was a matter of genuine public interest. “The situation at the moment is rather unsatisfactory,” Mr Stokes said yesterday. “There is provision for attorneys-general to sue government departments . . . but that very rarely happens in Australia because attorneys tend to be members of Cabinet.” He said each government in Australia should contribute to a pool of money that could be accessed for cases deemed to be of sufficient public interest.
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