Media Release 28 March 2022
MARITIME UNION AUSTRALIA – NATIONAL INDIGENOUS OFFICER
MARITIME UNION AUSTRALIA – SYDNEY BRANCH SECRETARY
28 MARCH 2022
MARITIME UNION JOINS IN SOLIDARITY WITH GOMEROI PEOPLE TO OPPOSE PILLIGA CSG
The Maritime Union of Australia has reaffirmed its support and solidarity with First Nations people throughout Australia by standing beside the Gomeroi people in opposition to coal seam gas in the Pilliga.
A Gomeroi Nations meeting was held last week in Tamworth to discuss a proposal from gas giant Santos to sink 850 coal seam gas wells in the Pilliga. The plan was almost unanimously opposed and the Union calls on gas giant Santos to respect the outcome of the vote and withdraw their plans to mine the Pilliga.
Members of the MUA rank and file met with Gomeroi people in Tamworth in the lead up to the vote, to express their steadfast support for the Gomeroi Nation’s right to oppose the Santos proposal.
Just as First Nations people should not have to negotiate with multinational gas corporations for jobs and basic services or trade away their lands and the health of the environment in order to receive them, regional and rural communities deserve public investment in sustainable employment and infrastructure that delivers training and transition opportunities for workers in the extractive industries to secure new sustainable jobs to avert a climate catastrophe.
“It’s clear from the Gomeroi Nations meeting that there is overwhelming opposition to the proposed 850 coal seam gas wells on their country. This is reflected in the almost unanimous vote against the proposal,” said Natalie Wasley, a member of the MUA’s Sydney Branch. “As well as the MUA, a number of other unions have also endorsed a statement supporting Gomeroi. We will continue to grow this supportive network and stand with the community through this whole process”, Ms Wasley added.
The MUA understands that Santos has lodged a "Future Acts Determination Application" to the Native Title Tribunal, to push ahead despite the outcome of the democratic vote. This demonstrates how little regard Santos has for Gomeroi people and their rights to land and self-determination. Santos lodged the application before the Gomeroi meeting, which also shows the ease with which proponents are able to overturn Native Title holders’ opposition to objectionable land use proposals.
“It’s a disgrace how little control the Native Title system gives Aboriginal people over their land. We will work hard to ensure the resounding ‘no’ vote is respected and that Santos' plan to desecrate the Pilliga is defeated,” Ms Wasley said.
“Gomeroi have taken a principled stand that should be respected amidst the worsening climate emergency. I was very proud to stand with Gomeroi people and spend time on their country to see their strength in action. Gomeroi Ngaarr- Gomeroi Strong!”, Ms Wasley said.
The MUA's National Indigenous Officer, Thomas Mayor said, “Now that the Gomeroi have rejected Santos’s proposal, I am confident the rest of the union movement will stand with the Gomeroi as we have. The fundamental issue here is that the rights of the Gomeroi should be respected”.
“Santos must listen to the rightful owners of the land, the Gomeroi people. In their language, ‘gamil’ means ‘no’ - and the MUA says gamil too,” Mr Mayor said.
The Maritime Union’s Sydney branch secretary, Paul Keating, reaffirmed the union’s solidarity with First Nations people and supported the position adopted by the MUA’s rank and file membership in opposing Santos’ plans.
“This land belongs to the Gomeroi people and our union stands with them in defiance of this massive corporation seeking to sidestep their rights in pursuit of shareholder profits, Mr Keating said. "This fundamentally is about sovereignty of First Nations peoples,” he added.
“The fact that Santos is seeking to extinguish Native Title and force this project demonstrates the injustices within the Native Title system, so we are standing alongside the Gomeroi people in this fight. If Santos won’t respect the outcome of this democratic vote, then government must intervene to ensure this CSG proposal doesn’t go ahead,” Mr Keating said.