Gilbert + Tobin was proud to sponsor Business News' "The Future of Energy" lunch in Perth last month, which brought together industry leaders to discuss the crucial role of cultural collaboration in navigating the energy sector's future.

The event highlighted the importance of working closely with traditional owners (TOs) – a point emphasised by Michael Blakiston, Partner of Energy and Resources at Gilbert + Tobin.

Published by Business News on 14 March 2024 the article Importance of cultural engagement quoted Michael Blakiston:

"The government is a creature of its own and everyone has got their own way of dealing with government," Mr Blakiston said.

"Sitting on the side of the TOs [traditional owners] and seeing what was presented to them to make decisions. It was quite a surprise to me. 

"We are expecting so much from people who aren't from the development industry world. We're an engineering-based industry and the gantt chart is almighty. And so often, the gantt chart has a period of time when approvals are to be sorted, and people are incentivised to achieve their approval dates. 

"How do we expect the TOs to make a decision in this time period?

"We present information in a powerpoint presentation which is glossy, attractive and has got a lot of numbers, but it's not digestible."

Mr Blakiston said the industry could learn a lot from Canada in how to engage with traditional owners.

"We had a Canadian lawyer come out here last year for the Pilbara summit," he said. 

"Canada is far ahead of us in terms of engagement. What they do is put it (the information) into their language, so the TO groups being presented with an opportunity can actually get it in their own language.

"By putting it into the language, it shows courtesy, an ability to communicate and gets some engagement."

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