The Tiwi Elder pursuing a Federal Court challenge to the approval, given by the offshore gas regulator NOPSEMA, of Santos’ Barossa drilling plan is seeking an injunction to stop drilling from commencing until his case is heard, following concerns that the company plans to push ahead and begin drilling the ocean floor within days.
Last month, Munupi Senior Lawman Dennis Tipakalippa launched a Federal Court challenge, with the support of his community, to have Santos’ Barossa gas drilling approvals set aside. He and his community say they were never consulted about the drilling plans – contrary to Santos’ legal obligations.
The Federal Court has listed the matter for trial on August 22nd, 23rd, and 25th. However, Santos has refused to delay the drilling until the Federal Court can fully consider the case, requiring Dennis to seek an injunction from the Federal Court.
Our lawyers will argue that Santos should not commence drilling until the Federal Court has decided if the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority (NOPSEMA) properly issued Santos’ Barossa drilling approvals.
“We are going to court because we have not been properly consulted about what is happening to our sea country, so for Santos to begin drilling at this moment shows disrespect for our culture and our interests,” Plaintiff and Munupi Senior Lawman Dennis Tipakalippa said.
“We are worried to hear about drilling going ahead soon, before the court has decided. That is why we want this injunction, to protect our sea country and our culture until the court decides what is right.
“We have cared for this sea country for millennia. Once those holes are drilled into the ocean floor, that cannot be undone. For that to happen when Santos has not consulted with us would be devastating to our culture and a huge betrayal.”Plaintiff and Munupi Senior Lawman Dennis Tipakalippa
“I am doing this for my ancestors and for future generations. We want to tell our children our traditional stories. If this drilling goes ahead now, it would be a very bad story to tell.”
“Dennis and his community should have been properly consulted about this drilling project in sacred sea country that they have protected for millennia. The Federal Court will hear their case in late August. All they are asking is that Santos wait until their case is heard before starting to drill into their sea floor,” EDO Special Counsel Alina Leikin said.
“Tiwi people have a spiritual obligation to protect their sea country and there are serious spiritual and cultural ramifications for Tiwi people if the drilling starts. There is a cloud of uncertainty surrounding the Barossa drilling plans, with a case before the Federal Court. Santos should respect Tiwi people and wait until a decision is made about the validity of the drilling approval.”