Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972

WA Greens hopeful Senate committee will recommend stronger protections for Ancient Burrup rock art

Monday, 16 October 2017

The WA Greens are hopeful a senate report into the impact industry emissions are having on the Burrup Peninsula’s ancient rock  art, due to be handed down this Wednesday, will initiate action to ensure this internationally significant site remains protected.

The Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications will release its report into the Protection of Aboriginal Rock Art on the Burrup Peninsula this coming Wednesday, 18 October.

WA Greens MLC Robin Chapple said he hoped the committee recognised both the global significance of the site, and the very real threat of permanent damage already posed by the concentration of heavy industry on the Peninsula.

“The Burrup Peninsula is the most incredible living art gallery containing literally millions of petroglyphs that record human occupation of this area for up to 40,000 years,” Mr Chapple said.

“It’s not just important for archaeological or anthropological reasons, or even just for cultural reasons; it is a site unlike anywhere else in the world and we as Australians should be proud of the heritage and knowledge that this place stores.

“The impacts of the industrial emissions from the many different industries present on the Burrup-Maitland Industrial Estates was highlighted at length during committee hearings by leading experts in the fields of archaeology, anthropology and Aboriginal heritage.

“I am hopeful that the exposure of significant flaws in previous rock art monitoring programs, and new research from Sydney University showing the damage that industrial emissions is having on rock surfaces within the industrial estate will have weighed heavily on the committee’s recommendations.

“Best case scenario is that there must be an entire overhaul of the existing industries on the Burrup Peninsula to ensure we are not getting acid-raid like scenarios damaging ancient rock art, and a complete ban on any new development along the Peninsula.”

“Despite the State Government’s recent draft Rock Art Strategy  showing virtually no change in the site’s management, and no tangible outcomes for future management, I am hopeful that we can get this globally significant site the World Heritage Listing protection it deserves.

On Wednesday, 18 October the report will be made available here: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/BurrupPeninusla

Media Contact:

Tim Oliver – 0431 9696 25

Future of James Price Point and Burrup Peninsula still hang in the balance

Monday, 14 November

Both James Price Point and Murujuga (Burrup Peninsula) will have their heritage status reassessed at next month’s Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC) meeting, some 18 months after the Supreme Court decision which found 35 Aboriginal Heritage sites had been unlawfully deregistered.

WA Greens Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson Robin Chapple MLC said it was a disgrace the sites even had to be reassessed, given the incredible significance of both sites and the Supreme Court’s determination.

“As recommended by an Industry Working Group in 2012, the State Solicitor’s Office provided new guidelines on the definition of ‘mythological sites’ under section 5(b) of the Aboriginal Heritage Act leading to the unlawful deregistration of 35 sites. You had a situation where industry effectively told government the easiest possible method for them to circumvent Aboriginal Heritage,” Mr Chapple.

“Many of these sites have now been impacted or destroyed as their approvals were fast tracked and granted in the few short years the illegal guidelines stood, yet the Department of Aboriginal Affairs refuses to admit fault and continues to insist the sites be re-subjected to the painfully slow registration process.

“James Price Point forms part of ancient Aboriginal song line with enormous cultural significance to the more than 30 nations that remain in the area today, with evidence of habitation at the site dating back almost 30,000 years.

“JPP is also home to rare Spinner Dolphins, endangered Hawksbill Turtles and Dugongs, and an incredible collection of fossilised Cretaceous Dinosaur footprints.

“Murujuga has literally millions of beautifully preserved carvings, potentially more than 30,000 years old, and some of the world’s earliest known recordings of human faces. It is a living art gallery unlike no other and has been the subject of World Heritage for decades.

“Despite all the rhetoric from Colin Barnett and others about the importance of these sites, it is actions that speak louder than words and they have done nothing to extend these places the extreme protection they deserve.”

The closing date for written submissions on the reassessment of both DAA 30274 LSC11 (James Price Point) and DAA 23323 Burrup Peninsula, Murujuga is 5pm Friday 25 November, 2016.

Submissions can either be posted to:

Registrar of Aboriginal Sites
PO Box 3153
East Perth WA 6892

Or emailed to: registrar@daa.wa.gov.au

For more information please contact Tim Oliver on 0431 9696 25.

Aboriginal heritage management clearly not a priority

Thursday, 12 May 2016

More than $1.3 million has been spent over the last two years upgrading online Aboriginal heritage lodgements yet Traditional owners are reporting the system is harder to use than ever, according to WA Greens MLC Robin Chapple.

“It is abundantly clear that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, in the interest of bureaucratic efficiency, has no interest in genuinely improving the Aboriginal heritage system,” Mr Chapple said.

“Spending this money to upgrade the lodgement system has achieved absolutely nothing because there is still a massive backlog of heritage sites waiting to be assessed – almost 16,000.

“What is the point in using this system if the site you wish to have protected will sit in an electronic waiting list for eternity, never to be assessed by the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC)?

“If the Minister were serious about improving Aboriginal heritage then he would use his powers under the act to direct the ACMC to meet specifically to deal with the backlog of sites and provide assurance to Aboriginal Traditional Owners that their heritage is valued by the state.”

For comment please contact Tim Oliver on 0431 9696 25 or 08 9486 8255.

One mistake too many for Aboriginal Affairs Minister

30 March, 2016

The WA Greens say Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier should lose his portfolio, given his disastrous Aboriginal heritage record, after it was revealed writs will be served against him today in a Supreme Court challenge to the Roe 8 Highway Project.

“It’s a shame yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle didn’t include a fresh face in the Ministry for Aboriginal Affairs – not only has the Premier’s personal workload diminished, but he has failed to replace one of the most underperforming Ministers, indicating there is simply no one better left in this government,” WA Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal Affairs Robin Chapple MLC said.

“This is the second Supreme Court legal challenge mounted against section 18 approvals presided over by Minister Collier in as many years – clearly he sees himself more as an industry enabler than a heritage protector.

“1 year ago this Friday the Supreme Court found guidelines based on advice from the State Solicitor’s Office on section 5(b) of the act had been illegally used to deregister 35 heritage sites, all earmarked for development.

“Minister Collier has refused to use powers allocated to him under sections 10 and 32 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act to speed up the assessment process of more than 15,800 backlogged sites.

“And he has repeatedly broken promises to traditional owners, admitting last year that administrative oversight was the reason 14 Kariyarra heritage sites had not yet been assessed before acknowledging just two weeks ago they probably never would be.

“This Department has been acting as if proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act – which will strip any real power from the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee, and from Aboriginal people, concentrating it directly into the hands of the CEO – have already been passed.

“Quite simply, they have not. It is time for Minister Collier to go and time for this government to step up and treat Aboriginal heritage and Aboriginal people in Western Australia with the respect they deserve.”

For comment please contact Media Liaison Tim Oliver on 0431 9696 25 or 9486 8255.

Major parties both support Burrup development

24 March, 2016

WA Greens Mines and Petroleum spokesperson Robin Chapple MLC said he was disappointed by comments from Opposition Leader Mark McGowan that suggested Labor supported onshore LNG processing near Karratha.

“Mr McGowan last week suggested Woodside’s Browse LNG project could have been underway years ago with an onshore processing plant near Karratha, originally earmarked for the Burrup Peninsula,” Mr Chapple said.

“It is extremely disappointing to learn that both major parties continue to support the desecration of some of Australia’s, arguably the world’s, most significant Aboriginal rock carvings.

“We have already lost so much of the Burrup to industry – as much as 11% or over 10,000 carvings – surely what remains is worth protecting to the highest possible standard; a World Heritage Listing.

“To the best of my knowledge, Woodside has investigated potentially piping gas to the Burrup on a number of occasions previously and found it to be fiscally untenable. 

“The WA Greens do not support any new development on the Burrup Peninsula whatsoever; the long-term benefits of protecting this site far outweigh any others, particularly from a dying fossil fuel industry.”

For comment please contact Media Liaison Tim Oliver on 0431 9696 25 or 9486 8255.

Aboriginal Heritage status quo ‘insulting’

Friday, March 18

WA Greens Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson Robin Chapple MLC said proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act would not fix the 15,800 site backlog, contrary to claims yesterday by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

“What these amendments will do in practice is make it very difficult for traditional owners to submit sites to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for assessment; this is not a solution,” Mr Chapple said.

“Legislating against the addition of heritage sites to the state register can, under no definition, be considered protection ofAboriginal heritage and to suggest otherwise is absurd.

“Just as giving all decision-making power to the CEO in the interest of speeding up assessment of that backlog of sites will similarly, in practice, result in severely diminished protection for Aboriginal heritage.

“There is simply no way the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee in its current form – they meet once a month, for 11 months of the year – will ever get through the assessment of the more than 15,800 sites in the register, on top of their other duties.

“The status quo is really an insult to traditional owners, many of whom have been waiting years to hear from the Department, and to Aboriginal heritage in Western Australia.”

For comment please contact Media Liaison Tim Oliver on 0431 9696 25 or 9486 8255.

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