Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 07, 2024


Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (15:07): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs a question on Aboriginal affairs.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: On 20 December 2023, many members of this chamber received a letter from Sonja Dare, Chairperson of the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation, which stated, 'Barngarla do not support the desalination project proposed for Billy Lights Point.' The letter refers, in the first sentence of the second paragraph, to the Barngarla people having already advised the government about their objection to Billy Lights Point. The letter then goes on to state the following:

The Barngarla community are deeply concerned with the proposal due to the ecological and heritage issues at Billy Lights Point. We consider that these issues are insurmountable. These issues cannot be remedied by heritage surveys or other negotiations, as they go to the core issues of this development at this location.

My questions for the minister are:

1. How, when and on what grounds did the Barngarla people previously notify the minister of their objections?

2. Has the minister met with the Barngarla people about their significant concerns over the proposed project for Billy Lights Point?

3. What communications has the minister had with the Minister for Climate, Environment and Water, given the significant concerns expressed by the Barngarla community?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:08): I thank the honourable member for her question. I don't recall, but I am happy to check, having received correspondence directly on the issue of Billy Lights Point from Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC). Certainly, I have met with BDAC a number of times since I have been minister, I think in Adelaide but certainly at the BDAC offices in Port Augusta.

In relation to Aboriginal heritage as it pertains to any development, there are processes under the Aboriginal Heritage Act, particularly the interaction to sections 13 and 23, to specifically deal with Aboriginal heritage that might be on the site of any potential development, whether it be a development on land or a development on the coastline, as mentioned. I haven't had, that I can recall—but again, I am happy to check—specific conversations with the Minister for Environment, who has responsibility for the project of desalination for Eyre Peninsula, but I am certain that it will come up in discussions that I have with the minister.