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Greens join fight for sea country on Tiwi Islands, in legal first

Media Release
Dorinda Cox 22 Aug 2022

Today, hearings begin as Munupi Senior Lawman Dennis Tipakalippa sues Santos and the Federal Government over their approvals of the Barossa gas project, despite Santos’ failure to consult Traditional Owners. 

“This case could establish what adequate consultation looks like, when it comes to offshore gas projects. Native Title does not protect sea country,” said Greens Mining and Resources spokesperson, Yamatji Noongar Senator Dorinda Cox.

Senator Cox joins Traditional Owners on Country to hear their evidence, and consider if industry regulators are abiding by international human rights standards.

The following lines are attributable to Senator Dorinda Cox

“The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) clearly states that free, prior and informed consent is a human right.”

“Free, means without coercion. Prior, means giving communities enough time to consider their options. Informed, means having access to all of the relevant information before making a decision. Here, Traditional Owners were not even told about the Barossa gas project!”

“We’re talking about the The Munupi communities’ access to food, their ability to perform ceremonies and cultural practices. They have no protection from environmental disaster, the regulator needs to do their job.”

“Right now, our legislation is too weak to force mining companies to seek free, prior and informed consent from Traditional Owners. The onus is on First Nations people to figure out what the sector is doing, and that needs to change.”

“Traditional Owners will present evidence, on country, through ceremony, song and dance. I’m here to hear their evidence, this will inform what legal protections around free, prior and informed consent could look like as the Greens continue to fight for the UNDRIP to be implemented in our laws, politics and practice.”

“This would be the dirtiest gas in the country, with at least double the carbon dioxide of any other offshore Australian gas field. If Labor wants to meet their own emissions target, we cannot keep opening up new coal and gas.”


In 2007, 144 countries voted in favor of the UNDRIP and Australia was one of four nations who voted against it. After endorsing the UNDRIP in 2009, successive Governments failed to implement it. In March 2022, Senator Lidia Thorpe successfully introduced a Private Senators Bill that will ensure this Country complies with the UNDRIP. Senator’s Thorpe and Cox successfully established a Senate inquiry into the application of the UNDRIP. 

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