High school students are filing a class action stating that it is the Australian Government’s “duty of care” to prevent coal mine extension.
A group of high school students aged 13 to 17 are suing the Australian Government to prevent the extension of the Whitehaven’s Vickery coal mine.
Filed on Tuesday, the injunction claims that if the coal mine extension is approved it will exacerbate climate change and harm young Australians.
Eight high schoolers are part of the representative plaintiffs in the case, many of whom met during the School Strike 4 Climate last year.
One of the representatives, 13-year-old Izzy Raj-Seppings, organised the protest last year outside the Prime Minister’s Kirribilli residence and was famously filmed being ordered to move on by police.
It’s a strange world at the moment in many ways, but a child being threatened with arrest for standing up for her future… that’s insane. pic.twitter.com/RJBD3uoDpV
— Bella Lack (@BellaLack) December 19, 2019
She told the ABC: “We’re trying to get the Federal Environment Minister to prevent the Vickery coal mine going ahead because we believe she has a duty of care for young Australians and young people all over the world.”
The class action claims that the Minister of the Environment, Sussan Ley, has a duty of care towards young people as a vulnerable group and that the extension of the coal mine would harm young people in the future.
The action is not being filed under environmental law, which allows the eight representatives to make the claim on behalf of a larger group, and in this case, for young people all over the world.
If the injunction is successful it could be a breakthrough win against coal mines in Australia, making it harder for any fossil fuel project starting up or for the extension of existing projects.
Class action filed in Australia to stop coal mine. The Fed LNP Gov ONLY thinks in terms of money & economy. A class action is the only, smart way to communicate with them in a language they will understand and take notice. https://t.co/hlkEbcMXTi
— When the Flames Turn Blue (@WhenTurn) September 9, 2020
This comes just two months after a 23-year-old student also filed a lawsuit against the Australian Government for not disclosing the risks of climate change on their government bonds.
David Barnden, who is representing the students, told ABC: “If we win and if we can injunct the minister from making a decision to approve it, it could have huge ramifications for other new coal mines in Australia.”
“It might mean the end of any new coal mines in Australia.”