Parents for Climate say Santos Barossa Gas (and shop front) is not welcome

February 19, 2024
Parents for Climate protest outside the Santos shopfront in Garramilla/Darwin on February 19. Photo: Suki Dorras-Walker

Parents for Climate held a solidarity action on February 19 outside Santos’ new shopfront in Smith Street Mall, Garramilla/Darwin, in solidarity with Tiwi Islanders fighting to preserve culturally significant sea country and to protect the environment from fossil fuel exploitation.  

Similar actions were organised across the country, as well as in Japan, South Korea and Canada in response to Tiwi Islanders’ calls for a global day of action against Santos’s Barossa Gas Project.

Santos wants to drill underwater gas wells and lay 262 kilometres of pipeline in the Timor Sea. It would be laid through a protected marine park and along the entire length of one of the Tiwi Islands, coming within 7 kilometres at its closest point.

The Federal Court found against Simon Munkara and other Tiwi Islander co-applicants in January, who tried to ensure Santos followed proper process.

The applicants argued Santos must submit a revised environment plan to the offshore petroleum regulator to account for the risks posed by the pipeline to intangible underwater cultural heritage sites.

Had their argument succeeded, the pipeline construction would have been further delayed.

But, in a devastating blow for Tiwi people opposed to the Barossa gas project, the Court rejected the applicants’ cultural and expert evidence. It lifted the temporary injunction in place since November, thereby allowing the pipeline to proceed.

The failure of the case highlights the limits of using the law to protect humanity and the environment from the destructive imperatives of the fossil fuel industry.

The Australia Institute described the Barossa project as “possibly Australia’s most carbon intensive gas development”. When Barossa gas is extracted, developed and burned, it is expected to release 15.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was clear that there can be no new fossil fuel projects if global warming is to stay below 1.5°C. A rise in global temperatures will lead to widespread and catastrophic ecosystem collapse, rendering parts of the world uninhabitable.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights described the Northern Territory as a “climate change sacrifice zone”, due to projects such as Barossa.

The Barossa pipeline is crucial for fossil fuel infrastructure and must not be laid.

Following the court ruling, Santos announced it would establish a future fund for Tiwi First Nations people to fund services and infrastructure projects. But Santos has a track record of not properly consulting with Tiwi people. In any case, Tiwi people should not have to rely on dirty money to fund the services they need and want.

Some Tiwi people have travelled to Japan to ask credit agencies not to fund the Barossa project that endangers their sea country.

“Santos’ business is dangerous to NT communities, to our environment, to culture, our lifestyle and global climate,” a spokesperson from Parents for Climate told the gathering.

“We do not want their dirty business and the NT community will continue to stand up to support each other until we drive these fossil fuel giants out of town.”

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