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Byron Shire
November 30, 2022

Torres Strait TOs build seawall at Parliament House

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Today action was led by members of the ‘Torres Strait 8’, a group of Torres Strait Islanders. Photo Talei Elu.

Traditional Owners from the Torres Strait have built a replica seawall outside Parliament House this morning to call for stronger action from the Government to protect their island homes from climate change.

The action was led by members of the ‘Torres Strait 8’, a group of Torres Strait Islanders who in September 2022 made international legal history when they won their landmark case against the Australian Government at the United Nations.

The UN Human Rights Committee found that the Australian Government has violated its human rights obligations to Torres Strait Islanders by failing to act on climate change. The UN decision sets an international precedent, opening the door for further legal actions and compensation claims by those impacted by climate change.

48,525 signatures

A petition with 48,525 signatures supporting calling for greater action to be taken will also be presented to Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen today.

The action coincided with the first day of the United Nations COP27 climate negotiations in Egypt, which is being attended by Torres Strait 8 member Yessie Mosby, with his 12-year-old son Genia Mosby.

Torres Strait Islanders are on the frontline of the climate crisis, and urgent action is needed to ensure they can remain on their Islands. Rising sea levels, king tides, erosion, inundation and coral bleaching are threatening the homes and cultures of Torres Strait Islander people, and the Australian Government is failing to do enough to address the climate crisis.

Protect island homes

By building a seawall outside Parliament House, the group urges the Albanese Government to protect their island homes. Photo Talei Elu.

According to Kabay Tamu, Warraber man from the Kulkalgal Nation and claimant in the UN case, by building a seawall outside Parliament House, the group urges the Albanese Government to protect island homes, as the international community exhorts them to take stronger action on climate change at COP27.

‘Rising seas are threatening our homes, swamping burial grounds and washing away sacred cultural sites.

Colonisation all over again

‘If the government fails to take enough action, we could be removed from these islands we have called home for thousands of years. Removing a race of people from our islands is like colonisation all over again for us.

‘You can’t put a price on the connection we have to the land and the sea.

Mr Tamu said that every high tide, every monsoon season, he sees the damage of coastal erosion on his island home of Warraber. ‘Across the Torres Strait Islands, we lose metres of land all the time. It’s happening more often now.’

The action was part of the Our Islands Our Home campaign, a campaign led by Torres Strait Islanders to protect their island homes from climate change.

The Our Islands Our Home campaign has five demands of the Australian Government:

  1. Fund adaptation programs that will allow Torres Strait Islander communities to adapt to climate impactsCommit to going 100% renewables in Australia in the next 10 years

  2. Support Torres Strait Islander communities to build community-owned renewable energy

  3. Transition away from fossil fuels as rapidly as possible through a just transition for workers

  4. Push the world to increase global ambition and keep warming to less than 1.5 degrees.

More on the campaign can be found here: https://ourislandsourhome.com.au.

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  1. Torres Strait Islands people ( like our Pacifc Islands Nations brothers and sisters ) just the reality that is more and more climate refugees.
    Lismore’s ‘climate refugees’ have been offered a $’smulti millions government package. Is this going to be the answer to future climate catastrophe events? Trying to clean up after every mess isn’t going to cut it anymore when the climate catastrophies will worsen.
    We know what to do to stop things getting worse than what they already are, mitigate by getting off fossil fuels.

    • It is terribly sad , we knew what needed doing , we promised to do some of it, but we haven’t .
      We have spent millions on farmers who promise to store carbon in more organic farming practices , but haven’t
      We have spent millions on farmers who promise not to be so destructive and clearing so much forest, but haven’t .
      We have spent millions on farmers who have promised not to pollute the Great Barrier Reef as much as they have been , but they are still.
      We have spent millions on industries ,such as coal and gas- fired power stations that have lied about ‘carbon sequestration’ that was always impossible .
      We have spent millions on free gifts to coal and gas for infrastructure and new mines, because it means votes for the Luddites in the Nation Party.
      Short of free swimming lessons, there is nothing that will help island or low lying (below 66 meters above sea-level) mainland coastal or floodplain communities, it is too late !
      Cheers, G”)

  2. So they used fossil fuels to travel all the way to Canberra to say that using fossil fuels and destroying the climate is someone else’s fault? When they have embraced everyday fossil fuel use to improve their material standard of living, like everyone else given the opportunity.

    Humanity cannot blame its way out of climate change

    • Shane, you nailed it.
      The Torres Strait TO’s should just stay right where they are, outta sight and outta mind.
      Using existing technology whilst the process of changing to a better new technology happens, is entirely logical.
      There isn’t an abrupt end of one technology, immediately replaced by a new technology.
      It is an evolving process like; the stone age to bronze age; the horse and cart to automobiles; landline telephone to smartphone AND of course, fossil fuel energy to renewable energy.

      You’ll need to try harder in demonising environment protectors.

  3. Always ‘follow the money’ gravy-train with the UN Marxists – then you will start to understand a lot of this developing-world political posture over flooding etc. Also, I bet a lot of our compassionate ‘compensation’ cash will go straight into a number of foreign despot’s Swiss bank accounts.
    After disastrous fire/floods we sorely need this money to repair our own country and be spent here – not over there.
    With 1.3% of the world’s warming attributed to Australia, why not try and get China and India to make the bulk of the money?
    But they are realists and not just some of our comfortable Luvy bleeding-hearts.
    So best of luck Enviro Warriors…I think this is just another of your lost causes coming right up.


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