Aboriginal MP to sue Woodside opposition over racial slur

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Aboriginal MP Carol Martin said she will sue the people that distributed newsletters labelling her a “coconut” after backing Woodside’s $30 billion LNG development in WA.

She said the slur was the worst that had ever been directed at her.

The newsletters have circulated Broome vilifying Aboriginal traditional landholders supporting Woodside’s development.

They label Aboriginal leaders “toxic coconuts” and “Woodside’s money hungry coconuts”.

Explicitly named in the newsletters were Kimberly Land Council chief executive Nolan Hunter, former chief Wayne Bergmann, and Martin, minister for the Kimberly.

Martin told Fairfax Radio she was appalled by the slurs.

She said she knew the people running the campaign and was planning on taking legal action.

“This is the worst racial vilification that’s been directed against me in my life, and I have had it all, believe me, but this is the worst,” she said.

“I will see them in court, because as far as I’m concerned I have never and will never step away from a racial taunt.”

“I don’t care who I have to take on. I will do it, and the reason I do it is because we cannot allow this sort of behaviour to happen in a place like Australia.”

In June traditional landowners signed a deal with the WA government and Woodside to extinguish their right over land at James Price Point to allow the project to go ahead.

In exchange for the land they struck a deal to receive $1.5 billion in community, health, education, and employment benefits.

WA Premier Colin Barnett said other protestors of the hub should try to distance themselves from the newsletters, and those responsible for them should come forward.

But Martin said as they were fighting under a common banner, all protestors should take responsibility for the slurs.

“People can’t go running for the hills now, because it’s the very people who have sent this rubbish around that stand with them on the picket lines,” she said.

Barnett said he had asked the attorney general’s department to investigate whether charges could be laid against the newsletter’s authors.

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