• Petitioned The Hon. Brad Hazzard

This petition was delivered to:

Minister for Planning and Infrastructure
The Hon. Brad Hazzard
NSW Premier
The Hon. Barry O'Farrell
Attorney General
The Hon. Greg Smith

NSW Government: Save Environmental Defender's Office (EDO) NSW

    1. Frances O'Brien
    2. Petition by

      Frances O'Brien

      Sydney, Australia

EDIT (23/12/13): As a Happy Christmas to EDOs across Australia, the Federal Government has announced that Federal funding of all the centres is to be cancelled. To show your support for EDO NSW, please visit their website (http://www.edonsw.org.au/save_your_edo). Thank you all for your kind support.


EDO is an independent legal service for those facing environmental disputes of great public interest, but are otherwise unable to take action themselves due to financial constraints. Currently, EDO is threatened with funding cuts from the NSW government, which would make them unable to continue serving the community in the public interest.

The following is a letter from the Executive Director of EDO NSW, Jeff Smith:

After nearly 30 years of helping the people of NSW to protect their environment and heritage under the law, EDO NSW faces an unprecedented threat to its survival and we need your help to ensure we can continue to assist you in public interest environmental matters. Please read on to better understand the problem and what you can do to help.

In recent days, the NSW Energy Minister attacked EDO NSW’s involvement in last weekend’s community conference in Gloucester. The conference provided an opportunity for community members to obtain information on developments across NSW and was attended by farmers, elected representatives and the broader community. This latest comment follows months of repeated attacks in The Australian newspaper, the National Civic Council and in NSW Parliament, mainly by Shooters and Fishers Party MPs. These are unjustified attacks on our work as lawyers for the environment.  Click here to see our letter of October 19th 2012 to NSW Government Ministers and MPs responding to these attacks.

The NSW Government is now being urged to stop EDO NSW funding under a review of legal assistance services. At the same time, the major source of our annual funding – which comes from the Public Purpose Fund of the Law Society of NSW (PPF) – has been cut. We have been receiving PPF funding since 1996, normally under three-year grant agreements, and our work has been actively supported by the Trustees. The first cut was to 6 months (July-December 2012); and as of this month has been reduced to only 3 months (January-March 2013), with the dollar value cut by a quarter.  As a result, both our PPF funding, and NSW Government funding, must now be considered at risk.

This damaging uncertainty makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a strong, independent EDO, that can offer ongoing help to clients, and serve the wider community, while operating free of the politics of the day. If our PPF funding is not restored and public funding affirmed then EDO NSW as you know it will be decimated if not destroyed in the New Year. This is occurring at the same time as the Government is pursuing its signature reform of the planning laws, with the avowed intention of restoring community participation and public confidence after the dark days of fast-tracking major projects under Part 3A.

The uncertainty can be solved by the NSW Government making clear its strong and unambiguous support for ongoing PPF and public funding of EDO NSW, ideally with cross-party agreement in the Parliament. In this way, community participation and public confidence in the planning and environment system can be maintained.

We need our many supporters to speak up long and loud. Please do any or all of the following:

If the current situation goes unchanged, it means we will have to lay off most of our valuable, highly professional and tireless staff early in the New Year, and begin dramatically scaling back or shutting down our popular key community services including:

  • Free legal advice telephone line – we took nearly 1500 calls last year
  • Community workshops – 95 across NSW in the past three years, with about 95% in rural and regional areas
  • Rural and regional work – a major focus for the past 10 years, with a regional office in Lismore, and support to communities on key issues like native vegetation, water plans, coal seam gas, mining, private conservation and local planning
  • Indigenous program – unique support to the Aboriginal community on culture and heritage
  • Education and publishing – major guides/handbooks, and 40 much-used Fact Sheets, and a major new guide on mining set to be published
  • Policy and law reform – including extensive input to the current major reform of the NSW planning laws, with 2400 hits on our online guide to the Green Paper during the submission period
  • Court cases and mediation – ensuring high quality cases get heard and those with poor prospects are filtered out, which has led to many important environment cases on behalf of communities from the cities to the bush

If NSW loses its EDO, the community’s only source of accessible, independent, expert, public interest legal advice on planning and environment matters since 1985 will disappear.

If that alarms you, then please take a stand. Help us to save your EDO.

Yours sincerely,

Jeff Smith, Executive Director

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 7,000 signatures
    2. 50 to 3000 - Let's send a message that can't be ignored.

      Frances O'Brien
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you so much to everyone who has signed this petition. The EDO team is extremely grateful for all your support. All we need now is one last little batch of signatures, and we'll be sending this petition to the government. So please share with your networks. We can do this!

    3. Reached 2,500 signatures
    4. Thank you!

      Frances O'Brien
      Petition Organizer

      Amazing! There continues to be a steady stream of signatures added to this petition. Nearly at 1500!

    5. Reached 1,000 signatures
    6. 300 signs: Thank you. Keep up the good work!

      Frances O'Brien
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you everyone who has signed. We need to gather a strong number of signatures, so please keep sharing. Passed the 300 mark!

    7. Reached 250 signatures
    8. Keep sharing!

      Frances O'Brien
      Petition Organizer

      Hello everyone who has signed, thank you for your action! It is important to make the situation as widely known as possible, so please share with everyone. Not only are environmental issues at stake here, but also the basic rule of law.

    9. Reached 10 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Scott McCalman AUSTRALIA
      • 10 months ago

      To protect our rights as land holders and to safe guard our environment

      • 10 months ago

      The environment needs all the help it can get. Legal support to unravel the technical issues is vilal

    • harmony Walsh AUSTRALIA
      • 10 months ago

      We have the right to legal advise over enviormental issues and the support of gov to have our say especially when it is the gov. that we are in disagreement with.

    • Kathrene Streamer AUSTRALIA
      • 10 months ago

      For 30 years have seen developers raze the natural precincts around coastal villages and build, build, build. The new homes are sold and the developers move on to the next small community. But when the new home owners then realise that there is no educational, medical or commercial support within an hours drive, they move on and leave a ghost town full of for sale signs in their wake. The only winner is the greed of the developers and real estate agents. The natural beauty of each small community has been destroyed. The EDO is the only saviour of small communities in the face of such wanton over development.

    • Richard Morrow AUSTRALIA
      • 10 months ago

      The role of government is to protect the community and its members (everyone) and its environment from the constant threats to all of our well being. This includes the threats from rapacious multi-national businesses that have only one interest, repatriating profits back to the elites who own them. It is the DUTY of your government to protect and foster every social institution we have created that protects us from harm, and that especially includes the EDO.


    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the Change.org API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.