LONG-TERM PAUSE ON WORKS AT LEE POINT – BINYBARA!
In a landmark victory, Larrakia Danggalaba leaders have won a long-term pause on works that could have destroyed Aboriginal cultural heritage at Lee Point – Binybara in Darwin.
Defence Housing Australia has announced it has made the decision to voluntarily stop work at Lee Point until 31 March 2024.
An application for an emergency halt to the land clearing was lodged last month under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 by Environmental Justice Australia on behalf of Traditional Owners from the Batcho family.
Congratulations to Larrakia Danggalaba Elder Tibby Quall, Larrakia Elder Lorraine Williams and Millima May for their work in safeguarding this irreplaceable cultural asset.
Our congratulations also go out to the Environment Centre Northern Territory and Friends of Lee Point, which have run a long-running campaign to protect this important biodiversity corridor.
This isn’t over. We still have an active cultural heritage application before Minister Plibersek and we will continue to press for proper environmental protection at Lee Point.
This is a win for Larrakia Danggalaba leaders, and for everyone who understands the need to protect Country and culture for future generations.
The lesson here is that meaningful consultation needs to be a priority, not an afterthought. The government needs to sit down with Traditional Owners and make it a priority to respect and protect sites of cultural significance.
The long-running campaign from the Environment Centre Northern Territory and Traditional Custodians escalated recently when Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek approved a project proposed by Defence Housing Australia, despite acknowledging the project would impact the endangered Gouldian finch.
A blockade quickly formed at the site, with concerned locals locking on to equipment to stop the destruction of some of the last old-growth trees left in Darwin.
Whether online or in person, the community rallied to stop the bulldozers destroying a place that has been cared for by Larrakia Danggalaba Traditional Custodians for thousands of years.
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage
Larrakia Danggalaba Traditional Custodians Tibby Quall believes the development will desecrate a significant Aboriginal area containing both tangible and intangible Aboriginal cultural heritage.
That’s why, on behalf of Traditional Custodians, Environmental Justice Australia lawyers lodged an urgent application to stop the land clearing under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.
The Minister has been asked to complete a due diligence assessment to determine whether Aboriginal cultural heritage is present in the 132-hectare site and the risk of it being damaged by the development.
Correspondence accompanying the application calls on Defence Housing Australia to cease and desist with land clearing and works while the Minister assesses the application.
“Larrakia People haven’t been consulted with. We are the custodians of the Country, and our voices need to be heard.”
What does the submission to Minister Plibersek say?
The submission to the Australian Government on behalf of 74-year-old Mr Quall states that the administration or use of Northern Territory laws to assess or protect Aboriginal cultural heritage at the site was “in essence, deeply flawed, deficient and largely tokenistic.”
Mr Quall argues the relevant Northern Territory laws do not provide effective protection of the Aboriginal cultural heritage at Lee Point – Binybara.
“Our client believes the destruction of ancient rock shelters at Juukan Gorge should be at the forefront of the Minister’s mind when she considers this development at Lee Point.
There’s still time for the Minister to pause, consider the cultural significance of this place, and listen to the Traditional Owners.”
What’s special about Lee Point – Binybara?
Traditional Custodians are concerned the development will disturb and desecrate the Kenbi Dreaming track, which holds Lores and Customs, as well as Dariba Nunggalinya – Old Man Rock.
Lee Point – Binbyara also contains trees older than the nation of Australia itself and it’s a popular walking and fishing spot for locals and visitors.
Now, it’s time for our federal Environment Minister to intervene and listen to the Traditional Owners.