A Tiwi Traditional Owner has won his bid for an urgent injunction to prevent Santos beginning work to lay an export pipeline for its Barossa Gas Project
Jikilaruwu man Simon Munkara lodged civil enforcement proceedings on Monday against Santos over its Barossa gas export pipeline.
Mr Munkara asked the court for an urgent injunction to prevent Santos from beginning work to install the pipeline in the short term, as well as a wider injunction which prevents the work going ahead until Santos revises its Environmental Plan, so that the pipeline’s impact and risk to underwater cultural heritage are properly assessed. That Environment Plan would then need to be accepted by NOPSEMA.
Tiwi Traditional Owners have commissioned reports from independent experts, who confirmed that, if installed in the current proposed location, the pipeline would damage Sea Country, dreaming tracks, songlines and areas of cultural significance.
Mr Munkara argues commencing the pipeline work under these circumstances breaches environmental regulations because there is a significant new environmental impact or risk that has not been assessed and accounted for in the Environment Plan.
Today, Justice Charlesworth found that the court had jurisdiction to hear the case and that Mr Munkara had standing to bring the proceedings he brought.
Her honour said she had to weigh the balance of convenience between the “significant financial loss” Santos would suffer as a result of the delay with the “irreparable damage” Mr Munkara could face if the pipeline work began.
The court heard that Santos’ ship had left Darwin Harbour last night and was hours away from beginning work on the pipeline.
Her honour ordered that work on the pipeline cease until 5pm on the 13th November when the matter will return to court.
Jikilaruwu Traditional Owner Simon Munkara said: “We are serious about protecting our Country. That is our obligation. I’m doing this for my kids, so that our culture can be passed on to future generations.”
EDO Special Counsel Alina Leikin said: “We are very relieved. Santos’ crews were hours away from beginning work on this pipeline which poses significant risks and impacts to our client’s Sea Country.
“We now have a chance to put forward our client’s reasons why Santos’ Environment Plan is not fit for purpose and must be revised and resubmitted.
“As her honour noted, Mr Munkara has been pressing NOPSEMA for many months to require Santos to revise its plan, and so he can be consulted.
“We are glad her honour found that Mr Munkara can bring this civil enforcement against Santos directly so that he can be heard and the risks to his Sea Country can be properly assessed.”
Mhairi McClymont | 0423 339 746
James Tremain | 0419 272 254