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The Federal Court victory allowing the multibilliondollar Santos Barossa project to go ahead is a triumph not only for the gas industry but for the whole of Australia – and for integrity.

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Lawyers from the pompouslynamed Environmental Defenders Office argued in Federal Court that a pipeline connecting the Barossa project to another Santos pipeline would anger two creatures of the Tiwi Dreaming – Ampiji, the Rainbow Serpent and Caretaker of the Sea, and the Crocodile Man – leading to harm to the people.

Judge Natalie Charlesworth was having none of it.

She was certainly not dismissive or disrespectful of Tiwi beliefs, but was caustic in her rejection of the case, saying a “cultural mapping” exercise and related opinions on which large parts of the case were based were “so lacking in integrity that no weight can be placed on them” and they were tainted by “confection” and “construction” of evidence.

Confection and construction? That’s a posh way of saying “lying”.

Traditional Owner Simon Munkara, a decent man who was the lead litigant in the Tiwi Islanders’ case against Santos, has been humiliated and is left to lick his wounds; the white lawyers, in the meantime, have retreated to their nice homes in the ‘burbs.

Needless to say, Territorians are disgusted that Indigenous people should be exploited in such a shameful way.

Reports in the NT News by Cam Smith and in the Australian Financial Review by Ben Potter did an excellent job in unravelling the charade.

Smith reveals that the Territory’s Labour Chief Minister Eva Lawler is likely to strip the EDO of its $100,000 taxpayer funding.

Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro promises to end the funding if the CLP wins the August election.

Ms Charlesworth found that one of the Environment Defenders Officers lawyers was guilty of “distorting and misrepresenting” the words of an Indigenous informant by basing part of a narrative about Ampiji travelling from a freshwater lake on Bathurst Island to the area of sea in question on the lawyer’s “own horizontal line” drawn on a map at a workshop.

The workshop was attended by eight Tiwi Islanders, two EDO lawyers and their expert witness, Michael O’Leary.

Ms Charlesworth said Dr O’Leary presented the map showing the area as it was 30,000 to 50,000 years ago, including the Tiwi Islands, which did not exist at that time, but that the Tiwi Islanders had treated the map as a present-day representation.

She found Dr O’Leary appeared on a video of the workshop to “encourage and hint” at the Indigenous informants, and found he had lied to the Tiwi Islanders because he wanted his “cultural mapping” exercise to be used to stop Santos’ Barossa pipeline being built.

The judge said another cultural heritage expert, Gareth Lewis, who convened a separate meeting with 18 Tiwi Islanders, two EDO lawyers and two Northern Territory environmentalists, compromised his independence by misconceiving his task as “eliciting information that would stop the pipeline” and engaged in a form of “subtle coaching” to tell their stories in a way that propelled them into the vicinity of the pipeline.

She said evidence of personal opinions and beliefs held by the applicants and their witnesses was not enough – they had to show by evidence that the beliefs claimed were “broadly representative” of the Tiwi and that the risks of harm were significant.

So, it’s over to politicians to strip the Environmental Defenders Office of its funding. The $100,00 could be put towards the upgrading of roads on the Tiwi Islands – a job being carried out by an Indigenous-owned company called Tiwi Partners.

As the Chief Minister says: “There must be consequences for lies.