Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972

Robin Chapple questions validity Rio Tinto’s approval for destruction of Juukan Gorge after new evidence surfaces

WA Greens MLC Robin Chapple questions validity Rio Tinto’s approval for destruction of Juukan Gorge after new evidence surfaces


WA Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple has found stipulations in the Aboriginal Heritage Act (1972) that were not correctly adhered to which may render the decision to approve the destruction of Juukan Gorge void.


Speaking generally Mr Chapple has labelled this development as “monumental” in respect to Heritage law in WA and it may affect dozens of other projects across the state.


“We have very clear regulations in the Heritage Act that state two members of the ACMC must be ex-officio when limited to a quorum of five - there were three ex-officio for the assessment of Juukan Gorge”


“It’s transcribed in the original Committee of the whole discussion from 1972 -- clear as day --secondly there is a requirement that an appointed anthropologist be on the Committee, this appointment had not occurred and therefore one was not present on that day”


“Finally, the committee chair declared that ‘he held joint shares in BHP and that family members worked for a subsidiary of Rio Tinto in Africa’ in 2011 and that he ‘maintains a small shareholding in CRA’ in 2013 which should have precluded him from the decision making process”


“It’s may invalidate the approval offered by the Minister at the time and countless others which have the potential for huge ramifications throughout WA”


Mr Chapple claims this is another example of the systemic issues within the Aboriginal Heritage Act and the ACMC generally.


“We have no idea how many of these decisions were potentially invalid due to failures of procedure that are clearly outlined and this is just another reason why the system needs to be replaced and decision making put in the hands of Indigenous stakeholders not government bodies”

Robin Chapple furious over State Governments ignorance of Aboriginal "gag clauses"

WA Greens MLC Robin Chapple furious over State Government’s ignorance of Aboriginal “gag clauses”


WA Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple slammed the State Government yesterday in response to Parliamentary questions over the existence of gag orders in Indigenous Claim Wide Participation Agreements with mining companies.


The State Government responded to Questions Without Notice on the topic stating they were “not aware” of these suppressive legal devices despite them being present in Claim Wide Participation Agreements between Traditional Owners and mining companies across the State.


“How can the department, whose sole purpose is to represent and protect Indigenous Peoples and Culture, claim to remotely function if they are unaware of gags that directly challenge that”


“The fact that the State Government has gone on record now to say they didn’t know about these clauses is ludicrous”


“Not only do these clauses exist but they are one of the fundamental issues of how the Government has failed Indigenous West Australians and these agreements need to be exposed for the unconstitutional travesty they are”


Mr Chapple has called for a moratorium on the now infamous Section 18s that have allowed for destruction of heritage, exemplified by the destruction of caves at Juukan Gorge citing these agreements as precursors to such incidents.


“Without these agreements, Indigenous people would be free to publically expose a company’s wrong-doings, but as long as the gag clauses exist in these agreements Traditional owners will be silenced”


“The new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill has made no mention of these gag orders or how it would approach them, I genuinely fear we will have another 50 years of the suppression of Aboriginal voices if it doesn’t address these agereements”


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.


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