Environmental defenders get a lifeline

Angela Pollard and Sue Higginson at the Northern Rivers Environmental Defenders Office.
Angela Pollard and Sue Higginson at the Northern Rivers Environmental Defenders Office.

Despite attacks in parliament and political manoeuvring behind the scenes, the EDO (Environmental Defenders Office) will remain open with an announcement that funding from the Public Purpose Fund (PPF) of the NSW Law Society has been secured for 2013-2014.

The EDO, which provides free legal advice to landowners and community groups, was accused of being allied to "radical socialists" and having "a leftist agenda to destroy the economy". Threats were made to cut all of its public funding.

A letter from the NSW Minerals Council and the Australian Coal Association to Premier Barry O'Farrell showed that the powerful industry lobby groups requested the EDO's public funding be cut.

A month later the EDO was informed their funding would be cut.

But a backlash from community groups and the legal profession have seen the PPF funding continue, although it has been reduced by 27%.

There were serious concerns that the EDO's Northern Rivers office, based in Lismore, would be shut down. But senior solicitor Sue Higginson said although one staff position would go, they would be "working harder than ever maintain best service we can."

Topics:  environmental defenders office

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