Press Release - March 29, 2024

Bulldozers approved for Lee Point

Traditional Owners are devastated by the Albanese Government's decision to allow a controversial development at Lee Point in Darwin to proceed, which they say will desecrate a significant Aboriginal area.

Defence Housing Australia (DHA) wants to bulldoze Aboriginal cultural heritage to deliver its multi-million-dollar Lee Point residential development, 17 kilometres from Darwin.

Last year, lawyers from Environmental Justice Australia lodged an application for cultural heritage protection for Lee Point on behalf of Larrakia Danggalaba Traditional Owner Tibby Quall of the Batcho family.

Elders and other experts made representations about the significance of the area, but Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has not listened to their voices and has today refused to declare that Lee Point is a significant Aboriginal area.

Larrakia Danggalaba Traditional Owners are today considering all legal options and have vowed to continue the fight to protect Lee Point from bulldozers. 

Traditional Owners are concerned the development cuts through a significant cultural landscape where several Dreamings connect.

DHA had paused work at Lee Point until 31 March 2024 while the cultural heritage application was being assessed, and it's understood DHA isn’t planning to start works over the Easter weekend.

Traditional Owners say the government should respect traditional governance systems and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples.

Larrakia Danggalaba Traditional owner Tibby Quall said:

“We're devastated and disappointed by this decision. It's disrespectful to our Culture and Country.

They should come and talk to us face to face, but they've got all the power, so it's done with a pen and paper. It's not right.

We want to share our Country with everyone in Darwin that loves the outdoor lifestyle and all the tourists, so it's just devastating for everyone.

They need to respect Aboriginal land and Aboriginal people.“

Larrakia Danggalaba Traditional owner Lorraine Williams said:

“I had to tell my sisters the news. It’s insulting and heartbreaking that they think they can walk all over our culture.

We’re not doing this for ourselves, we’re defending our lands to honour our Elders.

This is the only place left close to Darwin where we can teach the next generation about the history and culture of Larrakia people. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

The Government is not ready to think about our existing traditional governance systems and what cultural heritage really means for our people. At the end of the day, money talks, and we get left out of decision-making.

We’ll keep defending our lands and standing up for our culture.“

EJA Special Counsel Danya Jacobs said:

“Our client and his family are devastated by the Minister’s decision not to protect Country at Lee Point - Binybara.

Let's be clear: Larrakia Danggalaba people have cared for this land for tens of thousands of years.

We are concerned that the Minister hasn’t listened to what Larrakia Traditional Owners, Elders and experts have said about the significance of this area.

The system is geared towards approving development and decision makers are failing miserably when it comes to protecting First Nations’ culture and heritage.

Our client is considering all legal options and is calling on DHA not to proceed with the development.“