The Western Sydney Conservation Alliance is dismayed to hear that the government is talking about withdrawing funding from the Environment Defenders Office (EDO). They say that members of the public struggle to understand the legalities of complex planning proposals and rely on legal advice from the EDO. Members of the NSW Environment Group have been fighting undemocratic development and overpopulation for years in the presence of more and more extreme growthist right-wing governments in NSW. They were recently outraged to hear that the Government Energy Minister had reportedly accused them of consorting with radical socialists and having an agenda to destroy the economy. Their leader, Geoff Brown, has written a letter to Premier Barry O'Farrell and has issued a press release.
I write on behalf of The Western Sydney Conservation Alliance Inc, a dedicated group of volunteers dedicated to protecting our communities and our environment. WSCA has delivered some of the greatest conservation outcomes in Western Sydney (speak to your OEH bureaucrats for confirmation) including obtaining $22.5 million in Australian Government funding that can be readily accessed by the NSW Government to acquire land. One such major outcome from the $22.5 million obtained by WSCA volunteers was the purchasing of the 181 ha former Air Services Australia land at Cranebrook, Sydney’s newest nature reserve. A site you recently said was protected by your government.
As ordinary members of the public we struggle to understand the legalities of complex planning proposals. As such we have called on the expertise of the NSW Environmental Defenders Office to provide us with legal advice and education about the planning process.
They have always acted professionally and have never concocted a legal argument just to obstruct development. If we had no grounds for objection that was made very clear to us. Generally their advice would clarify the right of the consent authority to make the decision that we questioned and considered wrong.
So we were outraged to read in the SMH recently that The Energy Minister, Chris Hartcher, accused the group of consorting with radical socialists at a workshop last weekend, and questioned its public purpose role.''This isn't just about coal and coal-seam gas - this is about the Left agenda to destroy the economy,'' Mr Hartcher was reported as saying.
We would argue that the reasons behind reviewing the funding of the EDO have nothing to do with getting value for money for the taxpayers of NSW or that this funding should be diverted to remote communities starved of legal aid. Its all about weakening the position of the community to oppose inappropriate developments. To remove all roadblocks to development and economic growth.
We implore you to stop this growth at any cost madness and to publicly state that the EDO NSW will be properly funded. You need to recognise their role in empowering communities and individuals to protect their environment and their quality of life. In other words the essential role of the EDO in protecting the public interest.
P.S so outraged are we about your plans that we put out the below media release
Western Sydney Conservation Alliance Inc
Public urged to oppose moves by the O’Farrell Government to slash funding to the
NSW Environmental Defenders Office
The Western Sydney Conservation Alliance (WSCA) is urging the public to oppose moves by the O’Farrell Government to cut funding to the NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO).
The EDO, for almost 30 years, has provided the people of NSW with legal advice, representation and education about planning matters that generally impact communities and the environment. They play an essential role in protecting the public interest.
“It is obvious to us that the NSW Government is acting on behalf of its developer mates to get rid of the EDO. The O’Farrell Government has, in 18 months, demonstrated disdain for the environment and the public interest. They obviously view the EDO’s role of upholding the public interest as an impediment to development and economic growth.”
“WSCA consists of western Sydney residents that love their communities, their environment and their quality of life. We have fought several dubious development proposals and at times we have called on the EDO to advise us of our legal rights. For cash strapped members of the public and community groups they are the only option for legal representation.”
“At a meeting with Brad Hazzard this year WSCA reps were accompanied by an EDO staff member to update him on our legal challenge against Penrith Council and Lend Lease. Brad Hazzard was full of praise for the role of the EDO. So if he thinks the EDO is doing a fine job then he needs to get into the ear of Barry O’Farrell and stop this mad plan to slash their funding.”
“Without the EDO to uphold the public interest and to keep the bastards honest NSW will be a truly awful place to live. Without the EDO the public will be clueless as to their legal rights, voiceless and completely powerless to oppose inappropriate developments.”
“Members of the public, concerned about this further erosion of democracy, the public interest and their legal rights need to urgently call or write to Barry O’Farrell the Premier of NSW and their local Liberal member to express their outrage.”