Statement on behalf of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council by CEO Geoff Scott

Statement on behalf of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council by CEO Geoff Scott

Friday, March 9, 2012

Recently, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council submitted a number of applications to the NSW Government for petroleum exploration licenses. The applications are to explore for petroleum and gas in three locations - near Murwillumbah and Grafton on the NSW north coast and White Cliffs in north western NSW.

I stress, they are only applications - NSWALC faces the same scrutiny and processes to which all applicants are subject. We are at the very first stage of the process - effectively we're dipping our toes in the water.

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council operates independently of Government and does not receive nor rely on government funding to support its activities. We have thrived and survived under our own steam since 1998. That is a source of immense pride for our organisation, and for Aboriginal people across the state.

However, the needs of Aboriginal people in NSW are great. In order to move Aboriginal people to economic independence - one of the core objectives of NSWALC - we must find sources of revenue that can not only sustain our people, but also assist our people to improve their economic and social positions. Ending the cycle of generational poverty is very expensive.

For decades, Aboriginal people have gotten little more than scraps from mining activities. This strategy is about Aboriginal people breaking through into the real economy, and driving financial benefits back into the land rights network. It is a paradigm shift. It's about us having a seat at the table, rather than waiting for the crumbs.

Of course NSWALC has concerns about the environmental impacts of mining. That's why we intend to approach these issues from an Aboriginal perspective, and as an organisation that has an established track record of preserving the environmental and cultural sensitivities of our land.

Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people right across this state will have differing views on the merits of mining. NSWALC is not blind to that fact. As this process gathers pace, we intend to negotiate closely with stakeholders to ensure the best possible outcomes. 

There are no guarantees that NSWALC will even be granted a license to explore for petroleum and gas. And even if we are, there are no guarantees that our explorations will bear fruit. But NSWALC is excited about the prospect of finally giving the Aboriginal people of NSW a real shot at self determination through economic independence.


Chris Munro 0438 760 242         
Chris Graham 0407 555 328

NOTE: Images of Mr Scott are available from:



The application details are as follows:

  • 1,330 sq km area about six kilometres SSE of Murwillumbah.
  • 47,040 sq km area about 45km SSW of Grafton.
  • 368,340 sq km area about 49km ESE of White Cliffs.