ATTORNEY-GENERAL George Brandis has said he will change the law to make it harder for green activists to use the courts to slow resource developments.
If he is successful it could make it harder for activists to oppose a range of projects including Chinese coalminer Shenhua's proposed mine at Mount Watermark, near the rich farmlands of the Namoi catchment in NSW, which the federal government approved last month.
Senator Brandis's remarks come just over a week after a federal court ruled in favour of the Mackay Conservation Group and the NSW Environmental Defenders' Office and suspended commonwealth approval for Indian energy group Adani to build the giant Carmichael mine in central Queensland.
The senator told Sky News on Sunday that such actions were a threat to Queensland's economy at a time when it was struggling, and "extremely loose language" in the former Labor government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act laid down a "red carpet for vigilante litigation". "The people who challenged this are people who are determined to wipe out Queensland's biggest industry - the coal industry - and no government...can sit idly by and let people do that," Senator Brandis said.
"I think the Adani case has shown why it's very important that the courts not be used as a forum for vigilante litigation by people whose aim is to game the system, who have no legitimate interest other than to prosecute a political vendetta against development and bring massive developments, on which in this case some 2600 jobs depended, to a standstill."
But environmental activists described Senator Brandis as being un-Australian.
"It's amazing that the moment a mining project is found to be breaking the law, they simply refer to it as being tied up in red tape," said Tim Duddy, a cattle, grain and cotton farmer 85 kilometres south-west of Tamworth on the Liverpool Plains in NSW.
"The federal environmental laws are written to protect nationally important environmental assets. If any government is delusional enough to believe that protecting those assets is abusing process they are not very good representatives of the Commonwealth or indeed anything that we stand for as Australians."