Press Release - May 30, 2024

Traditional Owner seeks Discovery of Lee Point documents

A Traditional Owner has applied to the Federal Court for the discovery of documents related
to the recent decision to refuse his application seeking cultural heritage protection for Lee
Point in Darwin.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek sparked dismay and outrage when she refused an
application by Larrakia Danggalaba Traditional Owner Tibby Quall to protect cultural heritage
at Lee Point from the controversial development by Defence Housing Australia.

Mr Quall maintains that the development by Defence Housing Australia will desecrate a
significant Aboriginal area, containing tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

Mr Quall is now seeking a court order for the discovery of all documents that were
considered by the Minister when making the decision to refuse his application, which have
been withheld from him despite repeat requests.

His lawyers from Environmental Justice Australia say they need to see the documents to
properly assess whether the Ministers decision was lawful.

Minister Plibersek promised she would reform Australia's weak cultural heritage laws after
the Albanese Government tabled its response to destruction of Juukan Gorge in November
2022 in a report titled 'Never Again’.

The Federal Government has since refused to be pressed on a reform timeline and has
greenlit the destruction of Lee Point.

The news comes as a United Nations committee accused Australia of breaching
international racial discrimination conventions over failed changes to Western Australia's
Aboriginal heritage laws.

Larrakia Danggalaba Traditional Owners say the government should respect traditional
governance systems.

Larrakia Danggalaba Traditional Owner Tibby Quall said:

“We're the underdogs. We've got to fight back through their systems by going to court, but
we don't make the laws, they do.

Aboriginal people are not even in the constitution, but we have to live with it.

We are the First People. We own the land and everything that is on it. But white people
came along, said we are uncivilised, and made their own laws.

Now they say we're equal, but the law doesn't to treat us that way. We were here first, and
we will always have our own laws and customs. They can never take that away from us.

We've still got hope because this land is our Culture and Lore. It's how we survived for
thousands of years.”

EJA Special Counsel Danya Jacobs said:

“The refusal of the cultural heritage application raises serious questions that need to be

Our client wants to know why Minister Plibersek seems to have ignored the voices of our
client and other Larrakia people about the significance of Lee Point.

This is a place that has been cared for by Aboriginal people for thousands of years, so our
client is devastated that Defence Housing Australia could destroy it all within days.

Our pursuit of document discovery is about understanding how the government concluded
that Traditional Owners are wrong about the significance of their Country.

Mr Quall is hopeful the court will recognize the importance of transparency and
accountability in this matter.“