Government fights for duty to not care about children

Equity Generation Lawyers

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9 July 2021: In announcing the Morrison Government’s intention to appeal yesterday’s Federal Court finding of a duty of care, Environment Minister Sussan Ley is arguing that she has the freedom to not care about Australian children and young people, according to the teenagers behind the case.

“When I heard the news I found it funny and honestly pretty embarrassing that the Environment Minister plans to appeal,” said Anjali Sharma, 17, in Melbourne.

“As a person in power, her job should be to act for, not against, the young people of Australia. But instead of doing her job of safeguarding our future, she is prepared to spend public money fighting for her right to make climate change worse, harm the environment and risk the injury and death of Australian children.”

“It should be an unwritten rule that the Government and every Minister has a duty to safeguard the future, but instead it needed to be written into law, and now the Morrison Government wants to erase that.

“This is an embarrassment for Minister Ley. A challenge favours the profits of coal companies above safeguarding the health of our environment and children and young people like me.”

Lawyer for the students, David Barnden, said: “We question the Morrison Government’s intent to appeal the duty. This is a duty about life and death for Australian children. It seems inconceivable that an Environment Minister, a Member of Parliament representing the people of Australia, would seek to rid herself of this sensible responsibility.

“We will vigorously defend the rights of children not to suffer injury or death from climate change at the hands of a government intent on approving new fossil fuel projects.

“The duty is sensible. It is based on the principle not to harm your neighbour. A government that cares about all its citizens would be reluctant to appeal the duty. The duty places sensible restrictions on people in power to avoid the catastrophic harms of climate change. Ultimately, the decision that the Minister intends to appeal, is one that looks after the welfare of vulnerable children.”

Sussan Ley MP is a federal Member of Parliament and, in her role as Minister for the Environment, is a member of the Executive government of the Commonwealth of Australia, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Ms Ley represents the people of Albury in New South Wales and the electorate of Farrer, a 126,000 square kilometre area in south western New South Wales.

The 8 July 2021 judgement and declaration is available on the Federal Court website here. The 27 May 2021 decision that sets out Justice Bromberg’s detailed reasoning is available here.

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