Burrup Hub to get full cultural heritage assessment

Murujuga traditional custodians protest development of sacred sites
Murujuga traditional custodians protesting development of sacred sites on the Burrup peninsula

Murujuga traditional custodians have accused Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek of “faulty reasoning” after she decided not to pause the development of a contentious $4.5 billion fertiliser plant on Western Australia’s Burrup peninsula.

The decision means Perdaman and Woodside can commence work that the traditional custodians claim may damage or desecrate Murujuga sacred sites while the Section 10 cultural heritage assessment is still ongoing. 

Despite this, Murujuga traditional custodians have welcomed the decision to appoint a ‘Reporter’ to conduct a full cultural heritage assessment of all industry on the Burrup Peninsula. The Section 10 Reporter will now commence a full cultural heritage assessment of industrial impacts from the ‘Burrup Hub’ on sacred Murujuga rock art and report to federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek. 

Related article: Murujuga custodians want ministerial action over rock art

Raelene Cooper, Mardudhunera woman, former chair of the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and ATSIHPA Section 10 Applicant, said, “We welcome the announcement of the belated appointment of a Section 10 reporter to conduct a full cultural heritage assessment of all industry on the Burrup Hub.

“However, the refusal to grant our section 9 application still allows for damage and desecration of our sacred Murujuga rock art while this assessment is underway. This is a dangerous and contradictory position from the government that makes no sense and reveals the hypocrisy at the heart of all consultation between traditional custodians and industry on the Burrup.

“The community will be outraged if this failure from the government to ensure cultural safety allows for another Juukan Gorge while the Section 10 assessment is still ongoing. The whole community needs to band together to protect Murujuga because this is about our human rights and basic equality under the law and our lore.”

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“Let’s not kid ourselves, the Australian Government is not doing us a favour—this Section 10 decision is the basic job of government and only came because we keep holding them accountable. This government benefited from the votes of many First Nations people who elected them on the basis of their commitment to the Uluru Statement, but too often Indigenous voices are still ignored by government if it’s inconvenient for industry.

“We are still being ignored about the removal of ancient culture and the impacts on our environment and water. Actions speak louder than words, and action needs to happen now or there is simply going to be nothing left to save.”

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