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Petitioning Minister for Health and Sport Greg Hunt MP and 6 others

Agree to an Australian plebiscite asking if the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area should be granted legal personality with rights set out in a draft Bill made available prior to voting.

The Environmental Defenders Office of Northern Queensland (EDO NQ) intends focusing on a novel approach to protection of the Great Barrier Reef - working towards obtaining recognition of legal personality for the reef itself, so that the Great Barrier Reef can act on its own behalf to protect its integrity now and into the future.

The law currently grants inanimate entities, such as Corporations, legal personality. They are not living things, and yet they can defend their interests, and seek justice in the courts. They are granted these rights, even though one of the principal objectives of a corporation is to make a profit for its shareholders - not to preserve the integrity of living ecosystems so that people, the economy, and nature itself can enjoy greater resilience and live in harmony.

It is not such a big step to alter people's attitudes so that a living thing can also be granted legal personality, and have the right to defend itself - particularly given the increasing threat to the world from climate change, pollution and inappropriate development.

In fact, in New Zealand, there is an increasing surge of support for such an approach, and in two separate instances, the New Zealand government has agreed to grant the Whanganui River and Te Urewera National Park legal personality. Trustees will act on the river and National Park's behalf, protecting it from harm. The river and National Park will have rights, and will be able to sue the Government of New Zealand, or others who might take action to harm it.

We believe that the Great Barrier Reef - the world's largest living structure - should also be granted inherent rights to protect itself through the granting of legal personality.

For this reason, and in anticipation of a further deterioration in the level of protective management afforded the reef, EDO NQ has been undertaking legal research along these lines for the past several months.

The appalling decision by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on 31 January 2014, permitting the dumping of millions of tonnes of dredge spoil within the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, has emphasised the urgency of this work. It is now time to launch a campaign with the objective of securing legal personality for the Great Barrier Reef itself.

By signing this petition, you can send a clear message to the government of Australia that you believe that the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area deserves to be granted legal personality, and that a draft Bill to that end, incorporating all elements necessary to give effect to strengthened environmental protection for the reef, should be put to the Australian people for a vote on whether to proceed with the granting of legal personality for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Please note:

1. sign this position if you are eligible to vote in Australia;

2. if you are NOT eligible to vote in Australia, please visit the counterpart petition site and vote there:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/467/787/131/protect-the-great-barrier-reef-give-it-a-legal-identity/

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This petition was delivered to:
  • Minister for Health and Sport
    Greg Hunt MP
  • Prime Minister of Australia
    The Hon Tony Abbott MP
  • Premier of Queensland
    The Hon Campbell Newman
  • Queensland Attorney-General
    The Hon Jarrod Bleijie
  • Queensland Minister for the Environment
    The Hon Andrew Powell
  • Federal Minister for the Environment
    The Hon Greg Hunt MP
  • Australian Federal Attorney-General
    The Hon Senator George Brandis QC


Environmental Defenders Office of Northern Queensland started this petition with a single signature, and now has 627 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.




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Environmental Defenders Office of Northern Queensland needs your help with “The Hon Tony Abbott MP: Agree to an Australian plebiscite asking if the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area should be granted legal personality with rights set out in a draft Bill made available prior to voting.”. Join Environmental Defenders Office of Northern Queensland and 626 supporters today.