The Coalition stepped up its attack on Labour’s funding of environmental groups after Tanya Plibersek said the money would help “poor farmers”.
The Albanian government’s first budget on Tuesday night revealed that Labor would give nearly $10 million over four years to restore funding to the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) and Environmental Justice Australia (EJA).
The EJA has been instrumental in lobbying against coal and gas proposals, such as the expansion of the Narrabri mine in northern New South Wales, while the EDO provides legal assistance to customers who decide on projects on the basis of environmental protection.
The EDO was the non-government activist group that filed a complaint in April against laws introduced in New South Wales to crack down on disruptive climate protests.
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The Environment Minister defended the funding on Sky News Australia on Thursday morning after being quizzed by host Laura Jayes on why taxpayers had to foot the bill.
“It’s the same reason we fund legal aid…Because access to justice in Australia is expensive,” she said.
“If you’re up against a big corporation and they have billions of dollars to invest in a project and you’re a poor little farmer who doesn’t want his backyard paddock done up, maybe you have the right to the same level of justice.
Ms Plibersek declined to say whether any of the funding went to radical protests that brought traffic to a standstill around Sydney, saying instead that she ‘didn’t support this kind of protest’.
The MP for Sydney – where tough legislation fines disruptive protesters up to $22,000 – said groups like the EDO are ‘challenging’ the government ‘to make good, sound legal decisions on issues environmental”.
However, shadow environment Jonno Duniam disagreed with Ms Plibersek, saying the funding was proof the Labor government was ’empowering far-left activists’.
“It’s not about supporting ‘a poor small farmer’ as Ms Plibersek claimed,” the senator told SkyNews.com.au.
“The handover of $9.8 million of taxpayers’ money to the EDO and EJA is clearly about associating Labor with the Greens and encouraging and empowering far left activists – and it will inflict considerable damage to our national economy.
“The Albanian government openly supports environmental activists who intend to shut down resource projects and disrupt the businesses and livelihoods of ordinary Australians.”
The resource projects in question include the closure of gas-fired power stations which the Coalition says are essential in light of the Labor Party budget revealing gas prices are set to rise 40% by the end of 2024.
Shadow climate change and energy minister Ted O’Brien said the pipelines were essential to address “gas shortages”.
“With Australians ready to pay 40% more for their gas bills, the Labor government has cut funding for gas exploration and canceled essential gas pipelines and infrastructure projects to ensure adequate supply,” said Mr. O’Brien at SkyNews.com.au.
“There is an urgent need to increase gas supplies to bring energy prices down, but instead Labor is funding a Climate Warriors training program to tackle new gas projects and providing funds to environmental activists pushing for new coal and gas projects to be approved. reversed.”
It was a stance echoed by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton who said on Wednesday that the Albanian government had the wrong priorities given the cost of living crisis facing Australians.
“If we have a chance of bringing gas prices down, then we need more gas supply for our own domestic needs – not shutting off supply, which campaigners want to do,” he said. -he declares.