Bleijie 'a reverse Robin Hood'

LAWYERS at an environmental legal advice centre were outraged on Monday that Queensland would join a legal challenge against the federal mining tax while stripping nearly $100,000 from their budget.

On Friday, the state government cancelled its long-running grant of some $97,000 to the state's Environmental Defenders Office, before Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced the state would join a High Court action against the Federal Government's mining tax.

EDO principal solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg said Mr Bleijie was acting like a reverse Robin Hood.

"He's taken $97,000 away from our office, which provides environmental law assistance to those that can't afford it, yet proposes to spend $100,000 to $300,000 in support of one legal challenge by some of the wealthiest people in the country to help keep them rich.

"Experienced constitutional lawyers say the challenge is unlikely to succeed, making it a complete waste of taxpayers' money and probably leading to a costs order against the State of Queensland.

"At a time when the State Government is slashing funding from the budget, it seems bizarre to throw money at a High Court case that looks doomed to fail.

"Attorney General, give us the $97,000 back so we can help needy rural and regional clients on our waiting list."

After Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke condemned the funding cut on Saturday, Premier Newman's spokeswoman said the government would not reinstate the funding to an office that was "more like an arm of the Greens".

Ms Bragg said that while she previously ran as a Greens candidate in Queensland, her role with the EDO was not associated with the Greens, but was to help community groups worried about their local environment.

She said the EDO and the state government had recently worked well together on the government Greentape Reduction Bill, and she did not know why the government was now taking away some of the EDO's funding.

Ms Bragg said the EDO had secured commitments from state Environment Minister Andrew Powell to extend submission periods for large mining projects.

While Mr Powell said he had discussed extending the submission periods, a hard commitment could not yet be made, but he did plan to make several changes to the act when it was debated before state parliament.



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