After a series of on country hearings on Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait) in June, a groundbreaking federal court case on the impacts of climate change, and rising sea levels in the Torres Strait will resume in Naarm (Melbourne.)
With hearings taking place between the 8th and 27th November, the hearings will also address Australia’s contribution to carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions.
Guda Maluyligal plaintiffs Uncle Pabai Pabai, and Uncle Paul Kabai, from the Torres Strait Islands of Boigu and Saibai, will be present at the hearings to hear more about the science behind climate change and its impacts on their communities.
The duo launched the federal court action against the Australian Government for failing to prevent climate change.
It came from fears homes on the Torres Strait Islands could disappear under rising sea levels.
Uncle Paul Kabai says he launched the action to protect his home land.
“We are here in Court in Melbourne because we have a responsibility to protect our homelands, our
communities and our culture from climate change for the future generations to come.
We want the Government to face the truth about what will happen if they don’t listen to us and to the
The experts will show them that they have to act much more quickly to save our islands from
Every day we witness the changes on our islands, to our livelihoods.
We live on the frontlines of climate change, just like our brothers and sisters in the Pacific.”
Uncle Pabai Pabai says he wants the government to intervene on climate change.
“I’m happy to be here to deliver a message from my community to the Australian Prime Minister and
I say to them, help us. I say to them, the time for politics must stop, you must take
action urgently to protect us from climate change.
If you don’t, we’ll lose everything.”
The uncles are seeking orders from the court to force the Commonwealth to take steps to prevent climate change’s harm on communities.
The case is being backed by the Grata Fund, and the Urgenda Foundation, and is backed by an international precedent were 886 people took the Dutch Government to task on its inaction on greenhouse gas reduction.
Grata Fund’s Executive Director Isabelle Reinecke, says the case will spotlight Australia’s climate commitments.
“Today marks the start of expert witness hearings in the Federal Court that lift the conversation about
Australia’s climate action out of the murky depths of politics and spin, and up into the realm of facts based
on the best available climate science.”
The Uncle’s Principal Lawyer, Phu Finney McDonald’s Brett Spiegel, says “the stakes couldn’t be higher”.
“For Paul, Pabai and all Torres Strait Islanders who are fighting to protect their land, culture and identity, for their very existence.
At this crucial juncture in the case the Court will hear the best available science from an eminent panel of
independent scientific experts.
They will provide evidence about greenhouse gas emissions reductions required to prevent Torres Strait Islanders from becoming climate refugees.”
Photo Credit: Talei Elu