Santos Is Trying To Axe Gomeroi People’s Native Title Rights For A Destructive Gas Project

"This is not just a Gomeroi issue - it’s a fight for everyone’s future."

Santos Pilliga

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A series of interstate protests have taken place to challenge Santos for trying to dispossess the Gomeroi people from their land rights.

The oil and gas giant has been attempting to overturn Native Title rights so they can explore 1000 hectares of the Liverpool Plains as part of their $3.6 billion Narrabri coal seam gas plans. Despite years-long Gomeroi opposition to the project, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley gave environmental approval to Santos back in 2020 — but the company has hit legal hurdles in the years since.

Santos submitted a ‘Future Acts Determination Application’ in May, which was heard in National Native Title Tribunal on Monday. If approved, it will pave the way for 850 coal seam wells will be drilled in the Piliga State Forest and surrounding areas, giving Santos unlimited access to the gas fields there.

People gathered outside the Federal Court in Sydney, and in front of Santos Place in Brisbane to call out Santos on the day of their hearing, as well as the state and federal governments that enable them.

“First Nations throughout Australia must be front and centre, with the power to determine what happens on their own country,” said speaker Gomeroi Yinaar Linda Whitten in Sydney. “The ability to veto any detrimental developments is essential.”

“We need the bubble-headed politicians to ensure that Australia’s future is based on ethically, environmentally, and morally solid principles who do not ignore the voices and cultures of Australia’s First Nations.”

“We are calling for this application to be withdrawn immediately and for the Morrison and Perrottet governments to withdraw their support for the Narrabri project. We have never ceded sovereignty and that must be respected,” said Gomeroi man Raymond “Bubbly” Weatherall. “This is not just a Gomeroi issue — it’s a fight for everyone’s future.”

The National Native Title Tribunal case is still open, with no official determination reached yet.

Photo Credit: Maggie Munn/Twitter