A group of six Tiwi Islander traditional owners and a Larrakia traditional owner have lodged human rights complaints with 12 Australian and International banks over their support of major offshore gas field developments north of Darwin, saying that they did not give their consent to the projects.

The complaint comes in the form of a human rights grievance towards the banks, with the Traditional owners claiming, ANZ in particular, worked against it’s own human rights commitments by not getting consent from local traditional owners before approving a 1.5 billion dollar loan towards the projects

Vidhya Karnamadakala from Equity Generation Lawyers is representing the traditional owners and said there is a key difference between consent and consultation.

“Consultation is just a process and at the end of the process businesses can still ignore what people actually want.

Consent is the question of saying yes or no, It’s the right of Traditional owners to say yes or no or yes with conditions, and the right for free and informed consent,” Karnamadakala said.

ANZ’s Human rights commitments stem from an incident in 2020 where a sugarcane plantation that was financed by the bank forcibly removed families from the site.

ANZ set up their human rights commitments shortly after compensating the affected families.

Karnamadakala said that this case is the first time Indigenous Australians have lodged a complaint against international banks and hopes that will set some form of precedence.

“If this goes well I think it would set an incredible precedent for impacted communities to use these grievance processes

As well as more and more businesses to see the value in having human rights grievance channels, as a way to make sure there respecting human rights,” she said.

List of Traditional Owners involved

  • Pirrawayingi (Marius) Puruntatameri
  • Paulina Jedda Puruntatameri
  • Carol Maria Puruntatameri
  • Dennis Murphy Tipakalippa
  • Therese Wokai Bourke
  • Simon Munkara
  • Tibby Quall

List of banks and export credit company’s involved

  • ANZ
  • Commonwealth Bank
  • Westpac
  • NAB
  • ING (Netherlands)
  • DNB Bank (Norway)
  • Citigroup (USA)
  • Royal Bank of Canda (Canada)
  • DBS Bank (Singapore)
  • MUFG (Japan)
  • SMBC (Japan)
  • Mizuho (Japan)
  • KEXIM (Korea)
  • K-SURE (Korea)
  • JBIC (Japan)

Listen to the full interview with Equity Generation lawyers’ Vidya Karnamadakala: