Northern Land Council Supports Traditional Owners Against Draft Mataranka Water Allocation Plan

Northern Land Council Supports Traditional Owners Against Draft Mataranka Water Allocation Plan

The Northern Land Council (NLC) is standing with the Traditional Owners of the Roper River catchment in their call for the Northern Territory government to rewrite the “appalling” Draft Mataranka Water Allocation Plan.

Key Concerns

Disrespect to Traditional Owners

The NLC finds the recently released Draft Plan to be “blatantly disrespectful” to Traditional Owners who have fought for decades to protect the Roper River. The Territory government missed an opportunity to create a holistic water plan that equitably shares water while protecting cultural and environmental values.

Ignoring Community Views

“Territorians are being presented with a plan that ignores the views of the community and puts the health of the springs at Mataranka and the Roper River at serious risk,” the NLC stated.

Statement from NLC Chair, Matthew Ryan

“Our waters are sacred, our Songlines follow the water, they are crucial to our people’s way of life. This Plan jeopardises our Country and the future generations who will care for it.”

Unified Demand from Traditional Owners

The NLC highlighted the unified stance of the Ngalakgan, Alawa, Mangarrayi, Ngandi, Marra, Warndarrang, Nunggubuyu, Ritharrngu-Wagilak, and Rembarrnga peoples. They demand:

  • A ban on all further water extraction
  • Protection of environmental and Indigenous cultural values
  • Joint decision-making, including with downstream communities

Issues with the Draft Plan

The NLC criticized the Draft Plan for:

  • Lacking adequate information and safeguards for Traditional Owners and Aboriginal people
  • Proposing excessive water extraction
  • Having flawed water licensing arrangements

Call for Meaningful Consultation

Matthew Ryan emphasized the need for conserving water resources sustainably and urged the government to engage in meaningful consultation with Traditional Owners.

Legal and Ethical Failures

The NLC pointed out that the Draft Plan fails to protect cultural sites and does not involve genuine consultation with Traditional Owners. The plan does not align with best available science, socio-economic analysis, nor community input, as required by the National Water Initiative.

Historical Context and Cultural Significance

In November last year, Traditional Owner representatives presented a 13-meter hand-painted map to Parliament, calling for the Roper River system’s protection. The statement read:

“All our Songlines follow the water. We are all connected. If you take our water, you kill our culture. If you kill our culture, you kill our people.”

Current Threats

The NLC concluded that the NT government’s archaic management and regulation of water resources is the greatest threat to the Roper River system.

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