Sunday, January 29, 2023

Are Governments Listening To First Nations Peoples?

(Phot source: Creative Commons Flickr)

 Written by: Ned K. on 1 February 2023

There will be limitations to the effectiveness of the Albanese Government's proposed Voice for First Nations Peoples through an advisory body to the federal government, assuming a Yes vote in the proposed Referendum later this year.

For example, in NSW at the moment the Gomeroi People are appealing to the Federal Court a Decision of the National Native Title Tribunal to allow Santos to go ahead with 850 gas wells in the Piliga Forest which adjoins the Liverpool Plains. The Santos plan is also to build a 300km pipeline across farmlands from there to Newcastle. 

The plan is opposed by the Gomeroi People due to the cultural and environmental significance of their land and waterways where the gas wells are intended by Santos. There are also environmental groups, farmers and some Independent and minor political parties opposing it due to the impact of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

The whole plan to build the pipeline and extend the gas wells across the Liverpool Plains is, according to former independent politician Tony Windsor, is not opposed by the two main political parties at NSW or federal level.

The Labor Government Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has initiated a review of 18 "contentious development projects" (Tony Windsor article in The Saturday Paper 28/1/2023) due "climate change impacts." However this Santos plan to go on a gas drilling rampage on Land of the Gomeroi people is NOT in the 18 projects to be reviewed.

I am sure that the Minister and Prime Minister and many other politicans have started off their many speeches stating that they recognise the land of the First Nations People on which they are speaking and saying that "it always was and always will be Gomeroi Land (in this example)".
Implicit in their speeches are that they respect the First Nations People and that they own the land on which they are standing.

However this means nothing if they do not support the concerns and opinions of the issues raised by the First Nations People.

The Gomeroi People are concerned enough about the Santos gas wells and fracking to challenge a Decision in the federal court. Surely this is an example where a federal government which says it wants to listen to First Nations People through an advisory body endorsed by a Referendum Yes vote should “put its money where its mouth is” and step in and squash Santos's gas well invasion of Gomeroi People's land.

Or is the case that big business profits of companies like Santos and the so-called "national interest" take priority over First Nation People's concern about their land?

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