WA HERITAGE CRISIS DEEPENS – FMG THREAT TO SUE STATE
The Yindjibarndi People have been battling for 4 years against an increasingly belligerent, litigious, and unscrupulous Fortescue Metals Group (FMG).
On 28 October, at FMG’s Solomon Project in the Pilbara, the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) discovered that FMG had desecrated an ochre quarry and destroyed part of a creek where sacred Gandi are found (stones used in initiation rituals).
That such damage can occur when YAC has previously provided the the Department of Indigenous Affairs with information regarding these sites, is proof positive of the DIA’s inability to effectively monitor or enforce the State’s heritage protection regime, or stop FMG from desecrating and destroying highly significant heritage and religious sites.
The Yindjibarndi People have appealed to the Hon. Tony Burke (Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) to use his power to make an emergency declaration to stop FMG doing more irretrievable damage. “The tragedy is that every moment spent waiting for Mr Burke to act, means more destruction, more knowledge lost,” said Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation CEO, Michael Woodley.
Fresh FMG legal threats against the WA Registrar of Aboriginal Sites, Kathryn Przywolnik, and a deepening crisis surrounding protection of Yindjibarndi heritage from FMG operations, makes Federal intervention more urgent than ever.
Registrar Przywolnik recently informed FMG that its latest section 18 Notice seeking ministerial consent to impact on Yindjibarndi heritage sites is “inadequate”, legally unsafe and should be withdrawn. FMG’s response has been to threaten litigation. The Registrar’s decision expresses no confidence in the heritage reporting of FMG in the strongest of terms, and confirms the grave doubts and objections consistently expressed by the YAC.
Mr Woodley said that FMG’s threat to sue the Registrar, and their backing of vexatious litigation against the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation would not stop the Yindjibarndi fight for justice. “If FMG think the law is just for the rich, and they can break us with lawyers and bullying, they should think again. The Yindjibarndi people may be one of the poorest groups in the Australia, but by staying strong we stand to gain everything that is most precious. Our country and culture is our life and our future. By lying down for FMG we have a whole world to lose.”
For further information
Michael Woodley – CEO YAC – mwoodley
Phil Davies – Anthropologis/Public Officer – pdavies
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