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MEDIA RELEASE: HERE FOR ANOTHER YEAR

SCULPTURE & ART

One year more! Environmental Law Centre confirms it will continue to help the community protect the environment and ensure government accountability until at least the next Territory election.a>

Riding on the back of an enormous wave of public support, the Northern Territory’s only community legal centre specialising in environmental law, the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), has confirmed today it will continue to help members of the Territory community to protect the environment through law until at least the next Territory election.

An incredibly successful art auction and an emergency grant from the NT Law Society have ensured the EDO’s survival for the coming financial year. “This is a sensational result for the many Territorians who value our near pristine environment; it is a great result for access to justice; and it’s a great result for people who value government and industry accountability”. Said David Morris, the EDO’s Principal Lawyer.

The EDO, along with all other EDOs around Australia, was stripped of all Federal Government funding at the end of June last year. Since that time it has been surviving solely on donations and grants. The Northern Territory’s Law Society has provided the majority of the grant funding. “It speaks volumes about the values held by our Law Society, and the importance they place on ensuring that Territorians have access to justice in relation to environmental matters” said EDO Chairperson, Kirsty Howey.

The Environmental Defenders Office has recently been involved in a number of controversial matters in the Northern Territory, including a successful Supreme Court challenge to the water licencing decisions of the Minister for Land Resource Management, Willem Westra van Holthe, and statutory complaints about the potentially catastrophic McArthur River Mine in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

“I think we have numerous examples which highlight the need for an EDO in the Northern Territory, that’s clearly the feeling in the community too, judging by the support we’ve received and the fact we were going to shut in less than 2 weeks. Said Mr Morris.

While this is a great victory, Mr Morris believes there is more to be done and scope to grow. “What I’ve observed is that there is enormous unmet need in the Territory for legal assistance in relation to environmental matters, there are many communities that we haven’t been able to assist because of resource constraints, this funding certainty provides us with a solid base to grow from and we will continue to press for government support for this important public service”.

Media contact: David Morris, Principal Lawyer 0402 778 997