Senate debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

5:56 pm

Photo of Lidia ThorpeLidia Thorpe (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

It was only yesterday that I stood up here to remind this place that the climate crisis is being caused by a failure to listen to and act on the advice, knowledge, science and wisdom of First Nations people in this country, not to mention indigenous people around the world, particularly those from countries that are still recovering from colonisation. First Nations people here and around the world have a role to play in preventing climate change and economic destruction, and that role is as leaders. For over 350 million First Nations and indigenous people around the world, climate change will impact our homelands earlier and more severely. It's already happening in this country. This isn't some sort of hypothetical situation or something that is going to happen in the distant future; it's actually happening now.

Today I stood out the front of this building to be in solidarity with traditional owners from what we now call the Beetaloo basin. I'd like to use the rest of my time speaking on this matter of urgency to read their open letter:

We speak as Traditional Owners and custodians of and around the lands and waters that you call the Beetaloo and connected basins. Although we come from many Nations, we have come together to put an end to the ongoing threat of fracking on our countries, which will denigrate and desecrate our lands.

We know our country. We read it, we understand it, and we alone speak for it and its songlines. It is our birthright—handed down by bloodline.

Together, we fight for it.

Our connections to country have been established and proven time and time again by the white man's law. We hold Native Title and Land Rights—a system that is meant to protect and enforce our rights. These have been denied to us.

For years, we have been told lies by the gas and oil corporations. That there would be no damage to the country or poison in our waters. These companies won't even answer the most basic of questions—where they plan to drill or how many wells they want to build.

These gas corporations lack any respect for us as Traditional Owners. They have failed to follow proper process in consultation with us, failed to acquire consent, failed to provide transparency in their dealings with us, and have systematically excluded our voices from the decision-making process for activities on our Country.

We don't have the same resources as these corporations. The system is already set up against us.

This Federal Government coming in over the top of what little processes we have undermines our land rights as Northern Territory Traditional Owners. The same Government who has never come out to our communities to sit with us or meet with us. They are failing to represent us.

Giving $50 million to mining corporations for an 'economic recovery' to start drilling will only line the pockets of huge corporations who want to take more than we're willing to give. It does nothing but hurt us, our communities and our country more.

What about our recovery? The money to finally fulfill the empty promises of proper housing in our communities, or resourcing the health services we've been calling for for years.

And what about country's recovery? Country's water is the blood that flows through our body, and it is already poisoned. Where is the money to clean the water many NT communities are forced to drink?

This is short term money that will cause long term pain, sow division and damage country and community. We will not allow you to cause any more pain, hurt or division in our communities.

Hear us when we say—we won't allow fracking gasfields on our country. Not now. Not ever.

We are united. This is our land, and we're ready to do whatever it takes to protect country.

Don't frack the NT! Don't frack the NT! Don't frack the NT!


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