Press Release - May 9, 2024

Bulldozing paused at Lee Point following allegations of illegal land clearing

A Traditional Owner has backed calls for investigation and potential prosecution of Defence
Housing Australia (DHA), as well as a Senate probe following allegations of unlawful land
clearing at Binybara - Lee Point in Darwin.

With most of the land yet to be cleared, Mr Quall, other Traditional Owners and community
groups are calling for a complete stop to the development.

Mr Quall has added his voice to calls by local environment groups for the investigation and
potential prosecution of DHA by Northern Territory authorities and for DHA to be called before the Senate Inquiry into Australia’s Extinction Crisis to be examined about its conduct at Lee Point.

Acting on behalf of Mr Quall and the Environment Centre Northern Territory (ECNT), lawyers
from Environmental Justice Australia have written to DHA alleging it has breached conditions of its development permit for Lee Point. The allegations have also been raised with the planning authority.

On Tuesday 7 May 2024, DHA confirmed it had paused further works pending a review into the allegations that some of the land clearing has occurred without an approved Erosion a
Sediment Control Plan and a Construction Environment Management Plan.

Between 30 April 2024 and 2 May 2024, ECNT alleges bulldozers destroyed approximately 1
hectares of habitat for endangered Gouldian Finches, black-footed tree rats, and approximately 270 species of birds at Lee Point.

Mr Quall is concerned that the potentially unlawful clearing may have occurred in an area of
cultural significance where he says there are sacred sites.

Mr Quall and ECNT are calling for the Northern Territory planning authority to investigate DHA for allegedly clearing without an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan and Construction
Environmental Management Plan for part of the clearing, which may be a breach of sections
75B(1) and 75C(1) of the Planning Act 1999 (NT).

Contravening a condition of the Permit may also constitute a criminal offence under s75B(2) of the Act, and clearing native vegetation contrary to the Permit may be a further offence under s75C(2).

Environment groups also allege that no Health, Safety and Environment Officers (known as
fauna spotters) were on site to monitor for injured or threatened wildlife during the bulldozing

ECNT says an injured, yellow-crested white cockatoo was found in a felled tree hollow following the bulldozing, while a northern brushtail possum (listed as vulnerable) is believed to have been spotted in a tree that was felled the following day.

ECNT and Mr Quall are calling for DHA to be called before the Senate Inquiry into Australia’s
Extinction Crisis to be examined about its conduct at Lee Point and its other housing
developments across the country.

The clearing of critical habitat at Lee Point is at odds with Australia’s commitment to end
deforestation by 2030 – as outlined in the Glasgow COP23 climate summit and reinforced at the COP28 summit in December 2023.

Danggalaba Traditional Owner Tibby Quall said:

“The clearing is disgusting and hurtful and ignorant. I haven't been able to see the damage yet, but I'm worried about the sacred sites near the freshwater creek.

We're supposed to be decision makers too, but Aboriginal people have been neglected and

They don't consult us or have us there on the ground to say 'yes' or 'no' to what's happening.

The military is supposed to defend our Country, not bulldoze and damage it.

It's not just our home - it's home to bandicoots, goannas, frogs, birds and snakes. There are no
other places like it in Darwin, and we have to try and save it.”

EJA Lawyer Jane Quinlan said:

“A number of serious and concerning allegations have been raised by our clients about the
bulldozing works at Lee Point.

It’s appropriate that DHA has paused any further clearing as our clients are calling for a full
investigation by Northern Territory authorities.

It’s important that these potential breaches are properly investigated while there’s still time to save the remaining land from being cleared.

DHA needs to listen to the calls of community groups and Traditional Owners and find another place for its housing development.

When you see habitat for threatened species being bulldozed at Lee Point, it is clear we need a strong deforestation or land-clearing regulatory trigger to be included in reforms to Australia’s national environment laws before it’s too late."