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Interpretation and Application of the Precautionary Principle: Australia's Contribution

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Australia has been a leading jurisdiction in the adoption of the precautionary principle, with widespread policy and legislative incorporation. This has paved the way for the development of a substantial jurisprudence on the interpretation and application of the principle. The international derivation of the version of the precautionary principle adopted in Australia, together with the wide range of areas in which the principle has been applied, for example biodiversity protection, environmental impact assessment, climate change, public health, etc., means that judicial consideration of the principle in Australia has the potential to form a body of common law with national and international application. Accordingly, this article reviews the adoption, interpretation and application of the precautionary principle in Australian environmental law, with a view to drawing out the general lessons this experience offers for interpretation of the principle in other, international settings.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9388.2009.00620.x

Affiliations: Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, Australia

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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