Senate debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021


Barossa Gas Project

7:47 pm

Dorinda Cox (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Given that gaslighting has been a clear theme of the day today, I rise tonight to speak on Santos's big, dirty Barossa gas project off the northern coast of Australia near the Tiwi Islands.

The Barossa development area lies 100 kilometres north of the Tiwi Islands. The Tiwi Islands are home to the Tiwi people who have a long and unbroken history with their country, contrary to some of the distorted reality that is being presented here tonight. The islands are known for their rich biodiversity of frogs, reptiles, birds and mammals, some of which are not found anywhere else in the world. The Tiwi people have carefully managed their natural and cultural resources for thousands and thousands of years.

The Barossa could become one of the dirtiest gas projects in the world. The Barossa gas field has very high levels of CO2, around 16 to 20 per cent, which will be vented into the atmosphere. This is the bottom of the barrel, super-dirty gas that no-one wants, and it needs to stay in the ground.

I was deeply saddened to learn that there has been no consultation with the Tiwi traditional owners on the Barossa project. Before June this year, if you went to the Tiwi Islands and asked any of the local people about the Barossa project, they would have said that they knew nothing. They didn't know it was happening. Santos claim they have consulted with the Tiwi Land Council. There are some serious concerns with this because the Tiwi Land Council are currently undergoing a review to address concerns around its performance and governance.

Recently Santos said they would travel to the Tiwi Islands and speak to all of the clan groups around the Barossa project. The first meeting was held yesterday, but Santos didn't even have the guts to turn up in person, instead, they attended online. How shameful.

I see zero evidence of any efforts to uphold the principle of free, prior and informed consent. Again, how shameful of Santos to do this to the Tiwi people. What are Santos trying to hide? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that First Nations people do not want to see the destruction of their lands and seas at the hands of billionaires and big corporations.

Parks Australia have given a class approval for ConocoPhillips, who were the original owners of this project, to construct a gas pipeline running for 61 kilometres through the Commonwealth Oceanic Shoals Marine Park. But they failed to properly consult with the most important stakeholders in the marine park, the Tiwi people.

Santos, like its mates at Woodside and BHP, are well exercised in the art of greenwashing. A report on the potential impacts on the marine turtles of the Barossa gas export pipeline, provided by Santos, asserts that there will be no impact on turtle populations on the Tiwi Islands. This report has received widespread criticism amongst NT marine scientists. It was not peer reviewed, and it does not include any relevant research conducted in the Northern Territory. The report was actually written as a desktop review from my home city of Perth, thousands of kilometres away, with a severe lack of relevant data. It incorrectly concludes that there will be no impacts from this project. They cannot be trusted to investigate the environmental and social impacts of their own gas projects.

I also have some serious concerns about the fact that the original proposal for the Barossa project that was provided by ConocoPhillips was fundamentally different from the current planning being undertaken by Santos. At no point has Santos received approval from the community to damage the land and sea through this Barossa project. Today I stand together with the Tiwi people in opposition to this project, and I call on Santos and the government to put an end to the Barossa project immediately, because consultation does not mean consent.