BURRUP PENINSULA REMOVED FROM WA HERITAGE REGISTER!

Alarming news revealed in WA Parliament on Tuesday April 21, 2015 when the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs confirmed that the Burrup Peninsula’s status on the state’s Heritage Register has recently changed to “not a site”. This shock revelation came in response to Questions on Notice from Greens MP, Robin Chapple.

Hansard records reveal that the Burrup was named a site in 2011 – details here – and has now been removed – details here.

WHAT YOU CAN DO!

Write to the Premier, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and your local MP to tell them this is an outrage. A selection of emails sent by FARA supporters are available here to inspire you!

Honourable Colin J Barnett MEc MLA

Email: wa-government@dpc.wa.gov.au

Honourable Peter C. Collier BA DipEd MLC

Email: Minister.Collier@dpc.wa.gov.au

FARA’S Media Release

distributed April 30, 2015

BARNETT BACKS AWAY FROM BURRUP

In Opposition, Colin Barnett was a passionate advocate for the ancient rock carvings on the Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago, stating that they were so precious they deserved World Heritage listing to protect them.

The Burrup Peninsula…just happens to be the site of the world’s largest concentration of ancient rock art… Australia’s most significant heritage asset…also national and world significance, and the responsibility for dealing with it lies within this Parliament, nowhere else.

I think that we as a Parliament need to recognise the importance of the rock art on the Burrup Peninsula… The rest of the world is recognising its importance, yet we in Western Australia are not; we are failing…this Parliament in particular needs to accept responsibility for the current and future protection of that rock art and all that entails.

Excerpts from speech to WA Parliament, 9 March 2006

But that was before he became Western Australia’s Premier and the industry lobby took over! The Burrup Peninsula does not contain resources for mining; it has been developed, through dredging, as a deepwater harbour to export iron ore from the outlying mining interests. It also hosts the joint venture North West Shelf and Woodside’s Pluto onshore gas facilities, which in turn supply nearby Burrup Fertilisers (remember Pankaj Oswal?) with ammonia and now YARA Pilbara with ammonium nitrate for the explosives industry (remember that Texas explosion in 2013 from a similar facility?)

Inconceivable as all this industrial development is in the midst of petroglyphs that are ten times older than the Egyptian pyramids, the Western Australian Government presented themselves as the good guys in 2012 by establishing the Murujuga National Park to protect the heritage of the local Aboriginal people.

What they weren’t broadcasting at the time is that the boundaries of this new National Park left out areas zoned for future industrial development. Now they have ensured there will be no inconvenient opposition to further development by declaring that the Burrup Peninsula is no longer a sacred site – a shocking move that is part of the stealth that lies within the proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

This heinous breach of Aboriginal heritage protection enacted by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs’ will further damage the reputation of WA and Australia internationally in relation to its treatment of Aboriginal people and the honouring of Aboriginal culture.

Friends of Australian Rock Art calls on Colin Barnett to be a man of his word – to resist industry pressure and progress the nomination of the Dampier Archipelago, including Burrup Peninsula, to World Heritage status.

Latest news on proposed amendments to WA’s Aboriginal Heritage Act

As at April 21, 2015

The Aboriginal Heritage Alliance has been getting lots of coverage about the proposed amendments.The announcement of the closure of 150 remote communities in WA adds fuel to this fire and is a devastating indication of the current WA Government’s attitude towards the preservation of Aboriginal culture and our world heritage.

The Aboriginal Heritage Action Alliance (AHAA) is an Indigenous group, formed in February with support from FARA to provide a united opposition to the State government’s proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Act. Follow them on Facebook and read more about the recent action here: http://thestringer.com.au/class-action-to-take-on-state-government-over-…

Read Dr Stephen Bennetts’ report on a recent bush meeting of Aboriginal elders hosted by Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation at Yule River, which was published in Crikey by Bob Gosford:

http://blogs.crikey.com.au/northern/2014/09/30/speaking-with-one-voice-was-changes-to-aboriginal-heritage-law-rejected-at-bush-meetings/

Australian Government Failure

A fundamental issue that impacts on the lack of protection of the rock art of the Dampier Archipelago is the poor legislation for Aboriginal Heritage protection in this country. Recently (June 2014) the Australian Government produced a draft Australian Heritage Strategy. It FAILED to highlight the importance of Aboriginal Heritage as a foundational issue in the protection of Australian Heritage.

In its submission to the Government, FARA said,

“The most important thing the Australian Government should be doing to offer leadership in heritage is getting serious about Australia’s Aboriginal Cultural Heritage. As long as government instrumentalities, policies and processes fail to properly acknowledge and protect Australia’s unique indigenous history, the remainder of its heritage actions are hollow. In Western Australia, Aboriginal Heritage is so seriously compromised legislatively and administratively that it is ONLY leadership from the Australian Government that can provide reliable protection for this bedrock of our nation’s past.”

And…

“FARA’s activity since 2006 has highlighted the inadequacy of both State and Commonwealth heritage protection regimes to offer the level of protection appropriate to a site of such unique international significance. In FARA’s view, the only way to protect the Burrup properly is for it to be accorded the World Heritage status which it merits. However, the State Government claims that the area’s current NHL status gives sufficient protection, while Commonwealth Governments from both sides of politics have evaded the issue by holding to a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that they can only nominate the site for tentative World Heritage listing if first approached by WA’s State Government. Therefore they argue, the Commonwealth Government can do nothing (a claim belied by the Franklin Dam case).

Given the refusal to pursue World Heritage listing of a site of such global significance as the Dampier Archipelago, it is ironic that the current Commonwealth Government is giving serious consideration to the World Heritage listing of sites of far lower significance, such as Royal National Park and Melbourne’s Victoria Markets.”

State Government Failure

Recently the State Government released the draft Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill 2014, drafted to allow for amendments to the way the State’s Aboriginal heritage is managed.

They say these amendments offer a balanced suite of reforms that will satisfy the needs of those that work with the Act and provide greater protection, certainty, fairness and consistency.

They state that the key improvements proposed include:

  • a much stronger compliance regime with increased penalties;
  • a stronger voice for Aboriginal people;
  • streamlined permitting processes; and
  • increasing transparency and accountability.

But see what you think!