19 November 2012
Action needed to protect Yindjibarndi heritage
The Australian Greens say the Federal Government should give some teeth to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act in light of reports of raising concerns around the heritage and Native Title processes associated with FMG’s Firetail Solomon site.
“Reports today suggest there have been significant breakdowns in the assessment and management of this site,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues said today.
“There have been repeated concerns raised about the risk to and loss of significant sites at this mine.
“Archaeological reports suggest that there are a number of carvings, rock art, ceremonial stone arrangements, human remains and other artefacts in the area, and yet the State Government has already demonstrated that it is incapable of effectively protecting this area.
“Federal intervention is long overdue and the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation have a Section 9 application on the desk of Minister Burke, seeking to stop work at the area after sacred burial sites were uncovered.
“That application has been with the Minister for over a year but no decision has been made. I have written to the Minister, urging him to respond, but still preliminary works continue.
“Clearly the existing laws and processes are inadequate for protecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage.
“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act has not proven to be an effective means of protecting traditional areas and objects. Few declarations have been made: 93 per cent of approximately 320 valid applications received since the Act commenced in 1984 have not resulted in declarations.
“As well as dealing with the existing application, the Minister needs to urgently renew the work required to ensure that the Heritage Act is robust and capable of doing more than generating emergency applications that sit, unresolved, in Canberra for months on end,” Senator Siewert concluded.
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