Melbourne law student Katta O'Donnell is suing the government for failing to tell investor's in sovereign bonds about the financial risk of climate change. Picture: Molly Townsend
Melbourne law student Katta O'Donnell is suing the government for failing to tell investor's in sovereign bonds about the financial risk of climate change. Picture: Molly Townsend

Australia’s answer to Greta Thunberg

An Aussie law student who is suing the government over climate change says she is "flattered" when compared to environmental activist Greta Thunburg.

Melbourne student Katta O'Donnell was inspired to take legal action against the government during a La Trobe university lecture about the financial risk climate change poses.

The 23-year-old is arguing the Australian government failed to tell people invested in sovereign bonds how the climate crisis would impact the value of the asset.

Government or sovereign bonds are similar to shares but an investor lends a government money to deliver services and they are considered to be low-risk.

Melbourne law student Katta O'Donnell is suing the government for failing to tell investor's in sovereign bonds about the financial risk of climate change. Picture: Molly Townsend
Melbourne law student Katta O'Donnell is suing the government for failing to tell investor's in sovereign bonds about the financial risk of climate change. Picture: Molly Townsend

The government should "tell the truth" to investors about the risks, the student told NCA NewsWire after a Federal Court hearing.

The hearing was the first time the matter was before the court after the litigation documents were filed in the Federal Court in July.

"It's not that much to ask," Ms O'Donnell said.

"I find it quite disheartening that someone like me did have to take this step."

Lawyers for Ms O'Donnell will have 28 days to file a statement of claim which will go into more detail about the case and what they claim.

During the hearing, government lawyer Michael Hodge QC said he planned to apply to have the case thrown out and labelled some of the documents as "hopelessly defective".

But despite the legal argument in court Ms O'Donnell remained positive about the outcome.

"I think it's really important everyone understands the link between investment, our economy and the climate," the La Trobe University student said.

Some people had compared her to climate activist Greta Thunberg, who also launched legal action against five of the world's biggest global carbon polluters.

The comparison left her "flattered" but the student said there was more to do.

"I've got a lot more to do to be up to Greta's standards," she said.

The young woman had always been concerned about the impact of climate change but the recent Australian bushfires and the impact of the dead Black Saturday blazes in 2009 heightened her awareness.

"Young people are stepping up because they need to," she said.

An application to have the case thrown out is expected be heard mid-next year.


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