The Curious Case of the Crocodile Man

Peter Smith18 Feb, 2024 4 Min Read
The clash of cultures continues.

Occupying Sea Country, Crocodile Man, known locally as Ampitji, and the rainbow serpent, known as Jirakupai, are peripatetic sea creatures susceptible to being disturbed by an undersea gas pipeline. As are Whale Songlines, otherwise called Dreaming Tracks. Namely, “ancient memory codes that trace the journey of ancestral spirits.” Susceptible too are the dead ancestors of Tiwi Islanders whose remains supposedly lay beneath the sea bed – buried there some 30,000 years ago during the last Ice Age when sea levels were much lower.

And then again, maybe this is a load of concocted codswallop. Justice Natalie Charlesworth of Australia's federal court didn’t exactly say that but she struck a blow for common sense when on January 15 she gave Santos the green light to construct its Barossa pipeline. And what she did say was educational.

Under the sway of hydrocarbon-hating lawyers, in this case the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), and academic so-called experts, a small group of Tiwi Islanders brought the case to prevent Santos from constructing a 160-mile pipeline, which at its nearest point passes a few miles offshore of the Tiwi islands, on its way from the gas field in the Timor Sea to Darwin. How a case was able to be brought when the project had passed every official regulatory hurdle is a matter of fine print, which governments -- state and federal -- seem incapable of remedying or unwilling to remedy.

Talk about vexatious litigation...

One estimate put the costs of the delays to the project from this and earlier “vexatious” court cases to something in the order of $800 million in a circa $6 billion project. Santos haven’t given a figure. Whatever the figure, it’s important to note that taxpayers will bear 30 percent of it through lower profit taxes. Perplexing to note too that the EDO received over $8 million in funding in the last federal budget. No, that can’t possibly be right? Oh yes it is. Welcome to upside-down-land, where activist lawyers are paid to stop developments which government regulatory authorities have approved. Thus taxpayers pay for the privilege of being cheated out of revenue. Hmm? Makes sense to me said the Cheshire Cat. We’re all mad here Down Under.

Justice Charlesworth dismissed the claim that the project's pipeline would destroy Songlines deep in the ocean. She was particularly scathing of one so-called expert, Mick O’Leary, associate professor of "climate geoscience" at the University of Western Australia. She said he had misled some of the Islanders in his report on location of areas of cultural significance -- the whereabouts of the Crocodile Man, the rainbow serpent and the like.

Dr O'Leary's admission was freely volunteered, such that he did not lie to the Court. But he did lie to the Tiwi Islanders, and I find that he did so because he wanted his 'cultural mapping' exercise to be used in a way that would stop the pipeline... It is conduct far flung from proper scientific method and falls short of an expert's obligation to this Court.

As reported, in one piece of video evidence, a Tiwi Islander points to a location where Crocodile Man entered the sea; just seven kilometres from the passing planned Santos pipeline. Only trouble is that the seafront location in question, a cape, didn’t exist at the time. Justice Charlesworth was onto it.

At that time [during the last Ice Age] the shoreline lay well seaward of where it is today. The land masses now known as the Tiwi Islands did not exist as islands but rather formed a part of the mainland.

Her Honour asked O'Leary how the Crocodile Man could have lived on a cape that didn't exist historically at the time claimed? A good question. O'Leary put up a front. Lefties never deviate from their agenda in the face of contradictory evidence. The judge was not convinced.

I have drawn conclusions about the lack of integrity in some aspects of the cultural mapping exercise, which undermined my confidence in the whole of it… The material supports an inference that Indigenous instructions have been distorted and manipulated before being presented to this Court via an expert report, and I so find.

Crocodile Man, comin' to get ya.

Time to drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring; to find out more. What do we know of the Crocodile Man’s habits? What does he look like? Does he have the head of a man and the tail of a crocodile or is it the other way around? Whichever, he will be hard to miss. Does he live peacefully with the rainbow serpent is another weighty question, lest one kills the other in a Sea Country territorial dispute brought on perhaps by whales being discombobulated by the intrusive pipeline, not to mention "climate change."

Seriously folks, in the year of our Lord 2024, should courts of law be deliberating on the proximity of Crocodile Man to the sea thirty thousand years ago? And if, in fact, Crocodile Man was pictured by another Tiwi Islander as trekking many miles across land to the sea, back in those far-off Ice-Age days, rather than slipping into it from a non-existent nearby cape, would that make all the difference?

After a career in economics, banking and payment-systems management, Peter Smith now blogs on the topics of the day. He writes for Quadrant, Australia’s leading conservative online site and magazine. He has written Bad Economics, of which, he notes, there is much.


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