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Emma Carmody: recipient of the 2018 Dunphy Award

Dr Emma Carmody, EDO NSW water law expert, has won the Dunphy Award for “most outstanding environmental effort of an individual” at the 2018 Environment Awards hosted by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

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International River Symposium

Dr Emma Carmody, Senior Policy and Law Reform Solicitor at EDO NSW, spoke at the International River Symposium in Sydney this week.

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New case on landclearing and the Great Barrier Reef

EDO NSW has filed a new case challenging a decision of the Federal Minister for the Environment to use the least rigorous assessment method for a proposal to clear 2,100 ha of native vegetation on the Cape York Peninsula.

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Environment Council of Central Queensland vs Minister for the Environment and Anor

EDO NSW filed proceedings in October 2018 on behalf of our client, the Environment Council of Central Queensland (ECoCeQ), challenging a decision of the Federal Minister for the Environment in regards to a proposal to clear 2,100 ha of native vegetation on the Cape York Peninsula.

27 November 2018: The Federal Court has upheld this challenge. The Federal Minister for the Environment has conceded that the decision was not made lawfully.

Read our media release: Media concedes unlawful decision on land clearing in Reef catchment

More on the background to the case: ECoCeQ is challenging the Minister’s decision to assess the environmental impacts of the proposed clearing using the least rigorous assessment method available: ‘assessment on referral information’.

The Minister is permitted to determine that a proposal should be assessed using ‘referral information’ only if satisfied that the proposal meets a number of stringent criteria outlined in the federal environmental legislation, including that the relevant impacts of the proposal are expected to be short term, easily reversible or small scale, and that the degree of public concern about the proposal is, or is expected to be, moderately low.

We are arguing, on behalf of ECoCeQ, that:

  • the decision to apply the least rigorous assessment option to the proposal was unlawful because the Minister was not satisfied, as required by law, that the proposal met the criteria outlined in the legislation.
  • it was unreasonable for the Minister to find that the proposal was of ‘moderately low’ public concern in circumstances where, among other things, the Minister received more than 6,000 public submissions objecting to the proposal at the preliminary referral stage.


The Great Barrier Reef and Cape York - Envisat image.

This clearing is likely to have significant impacts on matters of national environmental significance, including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and listed threatened species and ecological communities.

Emily Long, Solicitor at EDO NSW, has carriage of this matter for ECoCeQ. Brendan Dobbie, Acting Principal Solicitor, is the solicitor on record.

We are grateful to barristers Stephen Lloyd SC and Ashley Stafford for their assistance in representing ECoCeQ in this matter.

Link to this case summary.

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River lore, water law

Our short film features members of the Murray-Darling Basin community on their relationship with the mighty river.

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Australia's faunal extinction crisis

Inquiry into Australia's faunal extinction crisis - Submission by EDOs of Australia

September 2018 - Download this submission

Almost 2000 species and ecological communities are listed as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable to extinction in Australia. A strong legal framework to protect biodiversity and build resilience is essential for reversing the trajectory towards extinction facing many of our unique species.

EDOs are all about protecting the environment through law and our contribution to this inquiry focuses on legal solutions to the extinction crisis.

We recommend a new Environment Act for Australia is needed to address the contemporary, interlinked challenges of extinction and biodiversity protection, natural resource management, land use, human settlements, production and consumption systems and climate change. The Environment Act must be underpinned by renewed national leadership, independent and trusted institutions, high levels of environmental protection, with strong community engagement and access to justice.

This submission first notes the 13 broad recommendations for biodiversity reform, and then identifies specific recommendations related to the terms of reference.


A superb parrot. Photo: Ron Knight, Wikimedia, Creative Commons

Link to this page.

More than just fish and ships - the case for an Oceans Act

EDO NSW has written a report for HSI Australia which sets out a vision for nationally integrated marine management, with strong national, regional and global leadership through a new Oceans Authority and clear framework legislation – an Oceans Act.

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Dr Emma Carmody at Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission

EDO NSW water law expert Dr Emma Carmody appeared as counsel at the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission on Thursday 20 September 2018. 

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Introducing our new Acting Principal Solicitor

We’re delighted to announce that Brendan Dobbie has taken on the role of Acting Principal Solicitor at EDO NSW, standing in for Elaine Johnson while she is on parental leave from 10 September 2018.

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NRAR complaint: Surface water and Maules Creek mine

EDO NSW Senior Solicitor Rana Koroglu spoke in an ABC News report last weekend on alleged inappropriate take of surface water by Maules Creek coal mine near Narrabri.

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