Tiwi Islands – Northern Territory

Archive for September, 2007

Petitions from Tiwi islanders

Posted by tiwiccbb on September 23, 2007

The petition, signed by over 500 Tiwi adults over 2 days, was tabled in Federal Parliament on Monday 9 Sept 06.



To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled in Parliament:

We, the undersigned, are residents of the Tiwi Islands and wish to bring to your attention the concern of the Tiwi people regarding the actions of Mr John Hicks, the Executive Secretary/CEO of the Tiwi Land Council.

We, the Tiwi people, feel that our interests are not being represented.

After his 20 year involvement in the Tiwi Land Council, we feel that Mr Hicks exercises excessive influence over the respected Elders of the Tiwi Land Council. We, the Tiwi people, are not sufficiently consulted on the decisions made which have a significant impact on our land and our people. We have little information about the workings of the Tiwi Land Council which makes decisions about our future.

We do not have confidence in Mr Hicks playing such an influential role in the Tiwi Land Council and immediately call for his resignation.

The undersigned petitioners therefore ask the House of Representatives to call on the Honourable Minister for Indigenous Affairs to acknowledge our call for Mr Hicks’ resignation and to commission an inquiry into the Tiwi Land Council including their administrative procedures, land-use decision making processes and Pirntubula Pty Ltd.

Chief Petitioner: Gawin Tipiloura, Nguiu PO, Bathurst Island, Phone: 0428 473 861

Thursday, September 14, 2006.

Brough rules out Tiwi council inquiry

The federal Indigenous Affairs Minister says he does not have enough evidence to justify an inquiry into the operations of the Tiwi Land Council.

A petition signed by 500 Tiwi islanders was tabled in federal Parliament earlier this week, calling for the chief executive officer to resign.

The petition alleges John Hicks exercises excessive influence over Land Council elders and that local people are not adequately consulted about major decisions.

The signatories say they have no confidence in Mr Hicks having such an influential role in the organisation.

The ABC has been unable to contact Mr Hicks about the claims this week.

The Land Council has issued a statement of support, describing him as a good man who has given 20 years of his life to the Tiwi Islands.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough says there are obvious conflicts that need to be resolved in the Tiwi community, but he has ruled out an inquiry.
————————————————————————————————————————Women’s Petition 22 Feb 2007
Check out link above, see the PDF files at bottom of page. Click on FEB 22 2007 edition of The Tiwi News

The women’s petition signed by over 100 Tiwi women reads as follows:
We, the undersigned, are women of the Tiwi Islands and we would like to express our concerns over the clearing of our native forests.
We are concerned for our future generations.
Our forests provide not only food source/bush tucker for our people but also our ceremonial items and craft. Ironwood and Bloodwood for carving spears and Turtini/Pukumani poles for ceremony, Stringybark for Tunga (bark baskets) for ceremony. Pandanus for basket weaving and various other plants for dyes.
You may be aware that ours is traditionally a matriarchal society although our voices are seldom heard.
We have no representation on the Tiwi Land Council.
We are not consulted properly and never in Tiwi language.
We hear promises of jobs and financial benefits for our people, yet have not seen any results.
Most Tiwi do not benefit from royalty payments.
In the meantime our forests are still being cleared at a fast rate.
Our call is to stop clearing Tiwi land.


Posted in Christine Milne, environment, Global initiative on Forests and Climate, Great Southern, Indigenous, Landclearing, Northern Territory, Tiwi Islands | 1 Comment »

Howard Government gives tax credits for landclearing on the Tiwi Islands

Posted by laurenmellor83 on September 21, 2007

On Thursday 20 September Senator Abetz, the Minister for Conservation defended the Tax Laws Amendment (2007 Measures No. 6) Bill 2007 that will give tax credits for land-clearing on the Tiwi Islands. In doing so he has exposed the hyprocracy behind the Howard Government’s Global Initiative on Forests and Climate which had the stated aim of limiting the destruction of forests and preventing illegal logging, both of which are occurring on the Tiwi Islands.

If you don’t agree with the Senator then please let him know via email, especially if you live in Tasmania.

If you live in Australia than why not send the same message to our forest clearing Prime Minister.

Burning native timbers


Posted in Abetz, environment, Global initiative on Forests and Climate, Howard, Landclearing, Northern Territory, Tiwi Islands | 1 Comment »

Environmental Conditions breached

Posted by laurenmellor83 on September 21, 2007

A quick look through google earth (as stated by Senator Milne) clearly shows the sort of activity that has caused breaches in the environmental conditions for Great Southern’s plantations on the Tiwi Islands. Condition 3 of the approval states;

The proponents will not undertake future clearing on treeless plains, riparian areas, water courses, or rainforests, and the following buffers are incorporated into site selection

  • wet rainforest patches: 400m

The video shows how close the landclearing and plantations are to the high conservation value rainforests, in this case their is a 100 metre buffer rather than the 400 metres as stipulated.

Unfortunately, the google earth image is old and does not show the real extent of land-clearing on the Tiwi Islands. Similarly, the date of the land-clearing is uncertain due to the lack of transparency surrounding the project. Land-clearing and breaches that have occurred since 2005 are not shown although we are aware of their existence (and they look very similar to the example in the video), as is the Commonwealth Investigation team which is investigating the breaches.

Posted in buffer, Christine Milne, environment, Global initiative on Forests and Climate, Great Southern, Landclearing, Tiwi Islands | 1 Comment »

Land clearing threatens Tiwi Islands

Posted by laurenmellor83 on September 20, 2007

The Tiwi Islands, off Darwin, are in danger of becoming a wasteland because of excessive land clearing, the Australian Greens say.

Greens senator Christine Milne told parliament the islands, an Aboriginal reserve, had high biodiversity value across an environment ranging from eucalypt forests and tropical savanna to rainforest.

The two islands, Bathurst and Melville, were particularly important as a biodiversity zone as more and more parts of the mainland Northern Territory were damaged by cane toads.

But a proposal to clear more forested land threatened the Tiwi islands’ unique environment, she said.

“These forested areas in the Tiwi islands are now the subject of a major clear-felling and woodchipping project approved by the Howard government in 2001,” she said.

“The Tiwi islands are becoming an industrial monoculture.

“Deforestation is when you have natural forest areas cleared for crops, and that is precisely what is now happening up in the Tiwi islands.”

The land clearing was contrary to the Howard government’s global initiatives on forests and climate, she said.

Senator Milne said the federal government had approved 31,000 hectares of Tiwi islands forest for clearing since 1998.

“It must stop. It’s particularly important to draw attention to it now because there is a proposal to add additional areas to be cleared to take it up to 80,000 hectares,” she said.

“That would, for the first time, see an inclusion of 20,000 hectares of forest clearing on Bathurst island.”

She called for the proposal to be more thoroughly investigated.

Charles Roche, coordinator of the Environment Centre NT, later called on the government and opposition to make clear their position on the clearing of land on the Tiwi Islands.

“We commend Senator Milne and the Australian Greens for speaking out about landclearing on the Tiwi Islands and call upon the Liberal and Labor parties to announce their position on landclearing for plantations on the Tiwi Islands,” he said.

“How could any responsible government or political support the landclearing of woodlands to establish plantations?”

from the Age

Posted in Christine Milne, Great Southern, Indigenous, Landclearing, Tiwi Islands | Leave a Comment »

Land clearing on the Tiwi Islands – Christine Milne’s Senate speech

Posted by laurenmellor83 on September 19, 2007

Excerpts of transcript of the Senators speech

Senator MILNE (Tasmania) (1.11 pm)—I rise today to draw the Senate’s attention to land clearing on the Tiwi Islands. I think most Australians would be appalled to know what is happening in this beautiful part of Australia. I am talking about the Tiwi Islands, which are off the Northern Territory; Melville and Bathurst islands, owned by the traditional owners. It is Aboriginal freehold land under the Commonwealth Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Act 1978. Different parts of those islands are owned by different clans of Indigenous people and traditional owners. The areas have high biodiversity values, with eucalypt forests and tropical savannas side-by-side with rainforest patches such as Jump-up Jungle. They are sensitive to fire and disturbance and they are particularly important as biodiversity areas, particularly as species refugia, as biodiversity is being diminished in other parts of the Northern Territory because of the spread of the cane toad, amongst other things.
These forested areas in the Tiwi Islands are now the subject of a major clear-felling and woodchipping project approved by the Howard government in 2001, so the Tiwi Islands are becoming an industrial monoculture. That, by any definition, is deforestation. Deforestation is when you have natural forest areas cleared for crops, and that is precisely what is now happening in the Tiwi Islands, contrary to the Global Initiative on Forests and Climate that the Howard government released in July this year and of which it is so proud. At the press conference in July, the Australian government said that almost 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from clearing the world’s forests and that, if the world could halve the rate of global deforestation, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by three billion tonnes a year. It went on to say that the Australian government was investing $200 million to support new forest plantings, limit destruction of the world’s remaining forests, promote sustainable forest management, and on and on it goes.
At the same time as the government through this initiative and the Sydney declaration is telling the other APEC leaders about this, and leading up to the Bali conference—at which avoided deforestation will be a major issue—native areas of vegetation, tropical savannah and the buffers of rainforest patches are being cleared illegally, and we are seeing a massive conversion taking place. We are talking about 31,000 hectares since 1998 approved for clearing by the Howard government, and it must stop. It is particularly important to draw attention to it now because there is a proposal to take the area to be cleared up to 80,000 hectares. That would for the first time see the inclusion of 20,000 hectares of forest on Bathurst Island.

I rise today to say that this has to be investigated, that the breaches of the agreement that the Howard government had for this land clearance need to be properly investigated and that people need to be brought to account. You might wonder how this could be possible in an age where we recognise we are losing biodiversity and native vegetation at a great rate and where we are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. In 2006 alone, 10,000 hectares were cleared. That was the single largest native forest clearing project for the whole of Northern Australia and it was done essentially for woodchips. The native forest is cleared and burned. The project is currently under federal investigation for serious breaches of environmental laws, such as clearing buffers around rainforest patches, and it is to be hoped that when that investigation is concluded the companies involved will be fined and required to restore native vegetation.

There needs to be a full investigation not only of the environmental breaches of the conditions set down under the EPBC Act, because we know that there have been serious breaches, but of how there has been such gross mismanagement of this project that the traditional owners have made a loss when they were led to believe that they would benefit from the logging operation in the Tiwi Islands. That is the main point that I want to make today in relation to this project. At least 2,000 Australians have invested with Great Southern through the MIS and believe they are doing something in relation to wood production. Great Southern needs to explain to their very own investors how they have got mixed up in actively pursuing a deforestation project to the detriment of the traditional owners of the Tiwi Islands. More particularly, we want from the government a clear statement that they will not continue to approve any further deforestation in the Tiwis, that they will not allow this application for expanded logging up to 80,000 hectares.

The Tiwi women have put out a petition and in that petition they made it very clear that what they wanted was an investigation and they wanted the logging to cease. What they have discovered is that they have been completely misled, that they have been ripped off and that the people making the money are these forest companies. I believe this would not be occurring anywhere else in Australia. In fact, it would not be occurring if this area were easily accessible. I think it is a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’: because it is the Tiwi Islands, because people are not going there regularly either as tourists or as businesspeople or in any other capacity, this is going on behind the scenes. I think it is about time that people look at the corporate social responsibility and ethical responsibility of companies like Great Southern and the banks that are financing some of these operations.

More particularly, I would like to know from the government how the investigation of the breaches of the conditions set down under EPBC is progressing and whether any charges are going to be laid in relation to that investigation. When is the community going to know where that investigation is up to?
Secondly, I would like a commitment from the Commonwealth to stand by its Sydney declaration and its global initiative on deforestation and to stop deforestation in the Tiwis. How ridiculous is Australia going to look, how hypocritical, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Bali later this year, when the community groups get up and point out to all the other APEC leaders, and indeed to all of the signatories of the UNFCCC, that Australia is saying to Indonesia ‘Stop deforestation’, saying to PNG ‘Stop deforestation’, but right next door in the Tiwi Islands the Australian government is not only encouraging and approving the conversion of native vegetation but it is also subsidising it—and subsidising it directly as well as through the MIS. That is not going to be something that the rest of the world is going to overlook in Bali. It is going to significantly diminish Australia’s standing.

I am calling on the government and the minister for the environment to become serious about what is happening on the Tiwi Islands, and I am calling on Great Southern to explain themselves, because they are a company which is trading on goodwill and trading on being ‘out of sight, out of mind’, and this cannot continue. Some scrutiny needs to be given. Where did the money go? Who benefited from these shipments, since the traditional owners ended up losing money on the logging of their own forest to the detriment of the wellbeing of that community?

The full transcript can be found on Senator Milne’s website

Posted in Christine Milne, Great Southern, Indigenous, Landclearing, Tiwi Islands, Tiwi Red | Leave a Comment »