Minister for Resources and Minister for Northern Australia
cc. Australian Labor Party Caucus
Dear Minister King,
Defend the Tiwi voice
Earlier this year, Tiwi Island Munupi Clan Elder Dennis Tipaklippa took Santos’ Barossa offshore gas project to Court and won, because even though Dennis and his Clan are the most impacted by planned offshore drilling activities, Santos did not consult them at all.
Mr. Tipaklippa argued he and his Clan should have been consulted about the Barossa offshore gas project, and the Court agreed, delivering a clear judgment - and upholding it on appeal - that Santos had not fulfilled its obligation under the law to consult and listen to the voice of Traditional Owners.
As you would know, the Tiwi Islanders' historic and empowering win did not change the law, it enforced the law. Tokenistic consultation with First Nations people is not good enough.
We welcome your recent response on behalf of the Government to the Federal Court, which indicated that the verdict provided clarity to the industry and instructed the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) to provide guidance to the industry about its consultation obligations under the law.
We urge you to please continue to preserve Mr. Tipaklippa’s historic win, and please do not issue any regulations which take away the right of First Nations people to have their voices heard about offshore fossil fuel projects that impact them and their Country.
Additionally, we know that Santos, Woodside and other big oil and gas corporations want to be let off the hook so they can treat consultation with Traditional Owners as a box-checking exercise. These companies can afford to do better - and they should do better.
We look forward to receiving your response.
Environment Centre NT
Environmental Defenders Office
The Sunrise Project
Jubilee Australia Research Centre
Australian Conservation Foundation