Flat White

Bushfire brilliance: let’s sue ourselves out of harm’s way

14 January 2020

12:31 PM

14 January 2020

12:31 PM

While most of us took a break over Christmas and New Year, the hysteria around climate change didn’t so much as draw breath. I’m not here to argue the science: my barb is reserved for the Change.org petition seeking to commence a class action against the federal government for alleged inaction on climate change.  

I stumbled across it on Twitter, clicked the link… and chortled.  

Just when I thought the ‘fragile masculinity is the biggest obstacle to climate action’ palaver was the new historical low of human stupidity, I have been unpleasantly surprised by this latest ideological brain fart. 

The activist set love a petition. They have this warped view that signing a petition and ‘raising awareness’ is actually contributing to a cause. It’s like telling your mates you’re an entrepreneur when, in reality, your high point was flogging your Playstation on Gumtree. Here, we have 50,000+ sooks (and some spooks, no doubt) who have enthusiastically signed a petition, but if they put their money where their collective mouth is and started a Gofundme, they’d be lucky to raise $236.87 and an ounce of hash. 

So, what’s their rationale? Well, the hard-left want to implement rabid socialism as the panacea to climate change. And because some Dutch activists won a class action requiring their government to reduce emissions, we can apparently cut the same cookie here.  Two problems, Hans. First, the obesity epidemic is the only problem socialism, and its 6-fingered buck-toothed cousin communism’, could ever hope to cure, especially when implemented properly. Second, in Australia, our legal system doesn’t give the tail too much room to wag the dog.  

Our courts interpret the law quite strictly. Occasionally, a progressive majority of judges go off the deep end, and the relevant legislature has to come in behind to sweep up whatever unworkable turd of a precedent it has left behind. Thankfully, our High Court is robust. Cerebral. Black letter. And you can’t just turn up to sell your snake oil, you have to be invited.  

Having practised in the litigation world for almost 15 years, I had to rack my brain for anything which resembled a private group suing a government to compel it to undertake an action not required by law. The rationale behind this proposed class action is the equivalent of an in-person litigant arguing the local council can’t knock back their proposed extension because, Magna Carta. The substantive, standing and ‘who do you sue?’ issues would make for stunning viewing: you can’t just sue the “government” and hope the High Court will fill in the blanks on the Writ of Mandamus for you in neon crayon. And if ‘public policy’ is your principal argument, then you, your opposition, the judge, and Dennis Denuto all know you’re pushing the proverbial uphill. 

Maybe the creator of this petition and its alleged 50,000+ acolytes should acquaint themselves with the average punter, get over their obsession with the government solving all their self-indulgent #firstworldproblems, and quit smoking Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina scented candles.   

Caroline Di Russo is a lawyer, businesswomen and unrepentant nerd.

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