Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Indigenous landowner challenges Sussan Ley’s decision for coal mine

Legal challenge over Sussan Ley’s decision to put potential mining jobs at Shenhua Mine before cultural heritage, ABC News, By Indigenous affairs correspondent Isabella Higgins and Sarah Collard  25 Aug 19, A family fighting to defend their traditional country from mining are suing Environment Minister Sussan Ley after she rejected their heritage protection bid in favour of a controversial Chinese coal project.

Key points 

  • Environment Minister is being sued for rejecting heritage protection in favour of a proposed coal mine
  • Lawyers say it could be an important test case if the decision is found to be unlawful
  • Traditional owners fear important sacred sites will be destroyed if the mine goes ahead

Last month, the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians failed in a bid to have sacred sites in north-west New South Wales preserved and protected from development due to cultural importance.

The land near Gunnedah had already been earmarked for the $1.2 billion Shenhua Watermark Coal Mine, which gained conditional federal approval in 2015 and has state development consents.

Ms Ley rejected their application on the grounds that the potential jobs generated from the mine were more important than cultural preservation.

She acknowledged the project could cause “mental health impacts … a sense of dislocation, displacement and dispossession,” among Indigenous people, but determined the social and economic value of the project took priority.

On behalf of the Gomeroi people, traditional owner Dolly Talbott has launched legal action against Ms Ley, with the case due before court for the first time on Wednesday.

She is being represented by the NSW Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) which will argue that the minister’s decision was “unlawful” and contravenes the constitutional basis of the heritage protection act.

“If we don’t try to save these sites, then we are not fulfilling our obligations to our elders and our ancestors … and our children and grandchildren,” Ms Talbott said.

“[The national Indigenous heritage laws] are supposed to be there for the protection of Aboriginal culture and it doesn’t seem to be working.”……

Benefits of mine outweigh destruction of heritage: Minister

When deciding on the intervention request, Ms Ley acknowledged the mine would result in the “likely destruction of parts of their Indigenous cultural heritage”.

“I considered that the expected social and economic benefits of the Shenhua Watermark Coal Mine outweighed the impacts on the applicants [Gomeroi people]” she said in the rejection document seen by the ABC…….

The Minister has the final say on which applications receive protection status, under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act. …….

Shenhua development courts controversy

This legal battle is the latest saga, in a long-running series of controversies involving the mine.

It sparked vehement protests in recent years, with farmers, environmentalists and Indigenous groups all fiercely opposed to the development.

They have raised concerns about how the mine will impact groundwater and wildlife and whether it’s economically viable.

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce previously labelled the project “ridiculous” after his own government approved the mine, which falls in his New England electorate.

The NSW Government bought back half of the company’s mining exploration license in 2017, at a cost of $262 million, which at the time it said was to protect prime farming land.

Winning this case would mean Gomeroi people can continue to teach their children culture on country, Ms Talbott said.

“The stories of the land that we continue to tell our children today, and hopefully these sites are still there so they can tell their children.

August 27, 2019 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, New South Wales

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: