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Larrakia Custodians launch appeal to stop destruction of Lee Point sacred sites, as Thorpe calls on Malarndirri McCarthy to intervene.

Larrakia Custodians have made an application to the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) to recognise sacred sites in the Lee Point development zone, including the Danggalaba Dreaming track, a sacred waterway and traditional camping places and ceremonial grounds.

The application, made by Environmental Justice Australia on behalf of Larrakia Danggalaba Traditional Owner Tibby Quall, has requested a review of the 2018 authority certificate granted to the Defence Housing Australia development, which, in a disputed decision, found there were no sacred sites within the development zone.

In response to the new application, a spokeswoman said AAPA has no authority to issue a stop order, and said the 2018 certificate “remains valid and in force”.

The move comes as NT Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, whose office is in Darwin, comes under increasing pressure to push Labor to change course.

Senator Lidia Thorpe has said that this application increases the urgency for Minister Tanya Plibersek and Assistant Minister Matt Thistlethwaite to intervene, and that Senator McCarthy has a responsibility to prevent the destruction of Country and cultural heritage. 


Quotes attributable to Lidia Thorpe, Gunnai, Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung independent Victorian Senator:

“Larrakia Custodians and protesters have been camped out the front of Senator McCarthy’s office in Darwin, calling on her to step in to save sacred cultural heritage at Lee Point.

“Shame on McCarthy. She should pick up the phone to her Labor mates who have given this the green light, and tell them to stop the destruction.

“Labor are hellbent on destroying and selling off Country for a quick buck. Throughout this process they’ve been dismissive and disrespectful to First Peoples. It’s time they started listening.

“There are sacred sites at Lee Point that Labor will destroy if they go ahead with this project. They’ll be no better than Rio Tinto.

“I’ve heard some shocking issues with breaches to conditions and obligations by parties involved here. While my office is working with Larrakia Custodians to explore legal avenues, it’s clear that this process has been dodgy.

“Weak cultural heritage laws means AAPA doesn’t have authority to stop works, so Labor should.

“Minister Plibersek and Assistant Minister Thistlethwaite have the power to save Lee Point.

“They should call off the cops and bulldozers that have taken over Lee Point, and return the area to Larrakia Custodianship to protect for future generations.” 


Quotes attributable to Sharna Alley, a Larrakia/Danggalaba and Torres Strait Islander woman:

“We cannot sit and watch DHA decimate our sacred country, every avenue to save this special country must be exhausted.”

“DHA and contractors are not only breaking Larrakia lore, they’re breaking their own white man laws, they are going against their own white man science.” 

“If money and greed supersedes ethics, morals and evidence every time then what right to protect our special places will blackfullas ever have?” 


Quotes attributable to Cyan Sue-Lee, a Larrakia, Wardaman and Karajarri woman:

"The myopic view that politicians and businesses have of the land will never make sense. Not only are they continuing the colonial project, destroying sacred cultural sites, irreplaceable ecological habitats and crucial biodiversity, but they’re damaging their own futures along with ours.”

“With the continued disregard for our reliance on healthy natural environments, all our future generations are doomed. We as Indigenous people must have land management rights – it’s our only hope for climate justice."



Additional Information:

Binybara/Lee Point outside of Darwin is an area of deep cultural significance to local Larrakia Peoples, an internationally-significant site for migratory shorebirds and home to the rare endangered Gouldian Finch.

Larrakia Custodians, alongside community groups, have been working to have Lee Point protected and returned to traditional custodianship, after the Federal government gave Defence Housing Australia permission to demolish sacred Country there to develop 800 homes.

Land clearing resumed on Tuesday after pausing for several months while Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek considered an emergency cultural heritage application lodged by Larrakia Custodians earlier this year, which she ultimately rejected.

Larrakia Custodians are exploring options to pursue a review of the application, with opponents of the development urging Plibersek to reverse her decision. 

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