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Federal Court judgement allowing the pursuit of environment groups ‘anti-democratic’ - Peak Environment Groups

Australia’s peak environment groups have expressed their alarm and profound opposition to the Federal Court’s decision to allow Santos to pursue environment groups that were not directly involved in a recent court case against them.

The decision means that the Environment Centre NT, Sunrise and Jubilee must hand over documents to Santos, and face a potential costs order, even though they were not directly involved in the case.

“This is a staggering decision that the public should be very concerned by,” Jess Beckerling, Executive Director of The Conservation Council of Western Australia, said today.

“These sorts of SLAPP suits are designed to deter public participation and they are profoundly anti-democratic.”

Conservation Councils want the decision overturned and for charities’ rights to stand in solidarity with traditional owners and defend nature and communities to be protected.

Jono La Nauze, CEO of Environment Victoria said:

“By hounding organisations not even involved in the case, Santos is trying to send a message to every community group in Australia that they are safer remaining silent.

“This is a chilling move by one of Australia’s biggest polluters, it is the kind of corporate bully-boy tactics that have no place in a functioning democracy.

“If Santos were actually proud of their environmental record, they would not be afraid of defending their actions in court.

Jacqui Mumford, CEO of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW said:

This is a staggering decision. None of these groups were parties to, funded or conducted the litigation.

The judge has found that their common interest in wanting to stop the Barossa project may be grounds for a non-party costs order against them.

If this proceeds any further, it could have a chilling impact on campaigning and public interest litigation across the country.



MEDIA NOTE: This statement is endorsed by:

- Environs Kimberley
- Environment Victoria
- The Nature Conservation Council of NSW
- The Conservation Council of SA
- The Conservation Council of WA
- Environment Tasmania 
- Queensland Conservation Council

The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) is the state’s foremost nonprofit, non-government conservation organisation representing nearly 100 environmental organisations across Western Australia. For more information, visit:

CONTACT: For any enquiries relating to this release, please call 0413 536 966

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