Right to healthy environment
A CHINCHILLA resident has weighed in on Queensland's new Human Rights Bill, to highlight the importance of including a right to a healthy environment.
The Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA) and Environmental Defenders Office Qld (EDO Qld) co-hosted a seminar in Brisbane on Tuesday to discuss the issue, where key speakers including Chinchilla's Shay Dougall took to the lectern.
Other speakers included EDO Qld's Law Reform Solicitor Revel Pointon, AELA's Dr Michelle Maloney, and Aimee McVeigh from Human Rights Act for Queensland (HRAct4Qld).
Mrs Dougall convened the Australian evidence provided to Permanent People's Tribunal (PPT) on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change, and has advocated for families impacted by the gas industry in the Western Downs.
She said the right to a healthy environment should be enshrined alongside the 23 other human rights contained in the Bill.
"Do we all have a right to clean air and clean water? Do we all have a right to a healthy environment that can sustain us, our children and grandchildren long into the future? We think so,” she said.
"The serious environmental impacts posed by issues such as climate change and resource activities like fracking don't just threaten our environment, the changes to our environment are impacting humans right now, particularly in our regional areas.
"These impacts threaten the ability to access groundwater and surface water for our farms and regional communities who depend on it, in a country where drought is already bad and predicted to get worse with climate change.”
It was a unique experience for Mrs Dougall - speaking in Brisbane to people who were not as familiar with the situation in the Western Downs as she's used to.
"What it showed me is that people are really concerned about the decisions that are being made about the apparent ticking time bomb that we feel is happening with regard to climate change and the lack of any political will and legal inaction over making any sensible decisions in that direction,” she said.
She said she hopes the Human Rights Bill would provide a 'language' to discuss issues, and a 'tool' for people to defend themselves against government decisions that "are so obviously not in the best interests of the public.”
"What the Human Rights Act will do is provide us with what's been missing, provide us with an extra means of communicating with our government what it is that we feel is wrong about this industry and providing us with an extra tool to defend ourselves.”