The Government and the Greens both claim they want to hear the Voice of Traditional Owners. But today, when it came to rights in Sea Country, they both tried to silence the voice of the nation’s representative Traditional Owner organisations.

None of the members of the of the Senate Economics Legislation Committee inquiring into the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Legislation Amendment (Safety and Other Measures) Bill 2024 wanted to hear from the representative Traditional Owner organisations. The Sea Country Alliance, representing over fifty Traditional Owner representative organisations with Sea Country responsibility, made a comprehensive submission to the inquiry.

Co-Chair of the Sea Country Alliance, Gareth Ogilvie, said:

“We speak for most of Australia’s Sea Country and yet no-one is speaking with us. It seems that this is just another exercise by the government in putting their hands over their ears because they know they won’t like what is being said.”

The Sea Country Alliance members represent Traditional Owners of most of the shoreline of Australia. Speaking with one voice for our rights to Sea Country, the Alliance is the single most comprehensive perspective on Traditional Owner responsibilities for Sea Country.

And yet our submission to the Inquiry garnered no response and no opportunity to speak to the Committee about their concerns.

Gareth Ogilvie continued by saying:

“This situation is frustrating SCA members’ aspirations for their economic participation. Our regions have the potential to be thriving economies but are impeded by reluctance in a system which prevents Traditional Owners from benefiting from economic development.”

Our concerns go to the continuing erosion of our rights and the lack of respect for our responsibilities. Whilst the proposed amendments in this Bill largely go to matters relating to Occupational Health and Safety, their volume obfuscates the very real threat in the Bill to Traditional Owners in the new s 790E. It is this new section that seeks to circumvent the new Nature Positive Plan through providing a potential lack of scrutiny under the EPBC of any future Environmental Plan approvals that may be granted by NOPSEMA.

SCA National Leadership Group member and National Native Title Council CEO, Jamie Lowe, said:

“With significant legislation affecting the rights of Traditional Owners currently being reformed with the input of peak Traditional Owner bodies, circumventing those voices through this s 790E is appalling. More galling is ignoring our submission entirely.”




Further Information

About the Sea Country Alliance

The SCA is an alliance between Australia’s Traditional Owners with responsibility for Sea Country that have come together to speak in unison. The formation of the Sea Country Alliance, following a national meeting of Traditional Owners in Darwin in November 2023, represents a step forward in realising our rights and responsibilities offshore.

All coastal state and territories of Australia are represented on the 56 member Alliance, ensuring that the complexity of our diverse seas, oceans and coastal areas is recognised. The Alliance has 47 Traditional Owner member corporations with statutory recognised responsibilities for Sea Country and 9 associate members which are Traditional Owner organisations with an interest in Sea Country issues.


About the Submission


About Gareth Ogilvie

Gareth Ogilvie is a Yamatji-Nanda man and is a strong role and positive role model for young Yamatji Traditional Owners.

Gareth is a graduate of the University of Melbourne and was previously admitted to practice as an Australian Lawyer at the Supreme Court of Victoria, Western Australia, and the High Court of Australia. Gareth worked at the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department before moving on to work as a Native Title Lawyer at the Kimberly Land Council.

Gareth is currently the Executive Officer for the Bardi and Jawi Niimidiman Prescribed Body Corporate in the West Kimberley, where he is working to build the cultural, physical, and economic capacity of the Bardi and Jawi Traditional Owners so that they can realise their distinctive relationship with their land and waters.


About Jamie Lowe

Jamie Lowe is a proud Gundijtmara Djabwurrung man and CEO of the National Native Title Council.

In 2021 he was appointed as the Indigenous Specialist Representative for the Australian Heritage Council – the principal adviser to the Australian Government on heritage matters.

In July 2018 he joined the Victorian Heritage Council as an Indigenous Specialist Representative and is a joint council member of the Coalition of the Peaks. Jamie was instrumental in the Closing The Gap Agreement with the Federal Government, that came into effect July 2020.

Prior to joining NNTC Jamie was CEO of the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation in South Western Victoria, awarded Native Title in 2011.

Internationally, Jamie is the NNTC representative on the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) – a high level advisory body to the New York based UN Economic and Social Council.


Media Contact

Alexandra Hill / / 0400 843 961

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