Protest calls on Plibersek to halt defence housing project at Binybara

July 10, 2023
Outside Tanya Plibersek's office. Photo: Jamie PB

First Nations activists and supporters protested outside Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s office on July 10, calling on her to protect Binybara (Lee Point), near Darwin, from being destroyed by Defence Housing Australia (DHA).

“When Aboriginal land is under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” they chanted at a snap rally of more than 50 people. It was organised by Uprising of the People (UP) on behalf of the Batcho Family from the Dangalaba Clan, Kulumbirigin Tribe of the broader Larrakia nation, in the Northern Territory.

The Larrakia people are fighting to protect Binybara, a significant sacred site for the Dangalaba clan, which the federal government wants to disrupt to build housing for defence personnel.

A loader was recorded working on site on the morning of July 7, despite a stop-work order issued to DHA the night before.

Traditional Owners had made an emergency application to Plibersek for an immediate halt to the desecration of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

“We have 10 days to bring the Australian people together, to apply pressure on our government to save Binybara, Lee Point,” Traditional Owners told the rally. A representative read out an open letter, provided by Dangalaba clan elders, calling for a halt to the Binybara project.

A delegation attempted to enter Plibersek’s office but the door was locked, prompting protesters to call out “Shame! Shame!”

The rally was chaired by First Nations student and climate activist Ethan Lyons. Aboriginal activists, University of Sydney student groups, a Palestinian student representative and the Sydney Anti-AUKUS Coalition showed solidarity.

There has been long-running campaign in Garramilla/Darwin against the Binybara housing development. Protesters blockaded the site and locked on to machinery when a dirt road was made at its entrance. Eleven protesters were arrested on July 6, including Larrakia woman Milima May, who was demonstrating on her grandfather’s country.

Plibersek approved the development two weeks ago, despite acknowledging it would impact the endangered gouldian finch. 

“This is about Minister Plibersek speaking to Larrakia people, and that’s never happened,” Larrakia woman Lorraine Williams told the ABC on July 8.

Plibersek had agreed work would stop until July 17, as she considers the July 6 application. Speakers said the protests would escalate if she refuses to halt the destruction.

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