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Rally demands federal environment minister step in to halt controversial NT gas hub

Callan Morse -

A rally organised by GetUp targetted the office of Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek in Sydney on Monday, calling for greater cultural heritage protection for Darwin Harbour and its surrounds.

The rally was in support of Larrakia Traditional owners, who have raised concerns about a gas hub development in Middle Arm, the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct.

The proposed development covers approximately 1,500 hectares of land bordering Darwin harbour, and includes a major gas manufacturing hub as well as petrochemicals, hydrogen and minerals facilities designed to support the planned large-scale expansion of the Northern Territory gas sector.

Traditional Owners say the development threatens sacred sites including ancient rock art and shell middens, sacred sites that pre-date colonisation.

GetUp First Nations Justice Campaign Director, Amy Gordon, urged Minister Plibersek to listen to Traditional Owners and block the Middle Arm gas hub to avoid another Juukan Gorge.

"We stand with Larrakia Traditional Owners warning that the polluting gas hub threatens ancient Larrakia rock art and shell middens that survived colonisation," Ms Gordon said.

"Minister Plibersek has the power to protect cultural heritage at Middle Arm – she must listen to Traditional Owners and block preliminary environmental approvals for the disastrous gas hub."

At the rally Ms Gordon delivered a joint petition with 24,500 signatures, calling for the minister to protect cultural heritage by blocking the controversial gas hub.

Ms Gordon also called for Minister Plibersek to honour an election commitment to implement federal cultural heritage legislation that protects the Middle Arm site and all sites from destruction.

"The Minister must also urgently act on Labor's election promise to implement strong national cultural heritage legislation to avoid another Juukan Gorge tragedy," Ms George said.

"This includes giving Traditional Owners veto rights over projects that threaten sacred sites, with increased penalties for corporations who destroy cultural heritage."

National Indigenous Times has contacted Minister Plibersek, Federal Minister for Infrastructure Catherine King and the Northern Territory Government's Office of Aboriginal Affairs for comment.

More to come.

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