28 May 2024

Even after a scathing verdict of misconduct by a Federal court judge, a Departmental referral, an internally commissioned review, scrutiny at the Expenditure Review committee, a Departmental-commissioned probe by a law firm, a referral to the Northern Territory Law Society for potential misconduct, the holding up of hundreds of millions of dollars of nation-building projects, and with communities on edge amid a cost of living crisis, the Albanese Government has decided to plunge millions more dollars into the Environmental Defenders Office with certainty that funding for the organisation will extend ad nauseam over the Labor Government’s lifetime.

This is on top of original $8.3 million already earmarked for the EDO in the October 2022 budget over four years, taking the total Federal Government funding to over $15 million by just the 2029-30 financial year alone.

At Senate Estimates in Canberra, Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water bureaucrats explained that the EDO funding arrangement will now be “ongoing”, indicating that the recent budget allocation $2.247 million in the 2027-28 Forward Estimates will continue. This is despite multiple answers over recent years and contract documentation previously indicating an end date of 2026.

Shadow Environment Minister Jonno Duniam probed (DCCEEW) bureaucrats during Senate Estimates in Canberra and is astounded by the funding arrangement:

“The Albanese Government’s decision to extend funding is a reckless use of taxpayer resources.”

“Every third party from food charities to on-ground environmental agencies have to fight tooth and nail for one-off Federal Government funding, whereas the Environmental Defenders Office didn’t need to apply at all and has now been given a blank cheque by Tanya Plibersek cart blanche. No matter that it has been accused of gross misconduct by a Federal Court judge nor that it was under a Federal Government review into whether the grant guidelines were breached.”

“This organisation is not fit to receive another red cent of taxpayer funding, yet the Albanese Government has decided that it can continue to hoover up millions more dollars from taxpayers while it holds up vital, job-creating projects and uses green lawfare to disrupt established industries across the nation.”

“The unfettered, golden egg arrangement is a stain on transparency and fairness. They can be castigated by a Federal Court Judge for gross misconduct, probed by multiple reviews, referred to their professional services body, and will still be guaranteed money. I have never seen a funding arrangement for a non-government agency like this. It is irresponsible and it needs to stop.”