Australia launches industry review near ancient rock art
MELBOURNE — The Australian government has launched a review of industry on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia, a key gas export hub, after concerns were raised by indigenous women about damage to ancient rock art.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek agreed to appoint an investigator to assess all impact on ancient rock art from industry on the Burrup Peninsula, in response to an application from two indigenous women representing a group called Save our Songlines.
“The consultant will take as long as is needed to prepare the report. There is no statutory timeframe,” a spokesperson for Plibersek said in emailed comments.
Once the review is done, the investigator must make a recommendation to the minister on whether to order new protection of indigenous heritage on the Burrup Peninsula, where there are more than a million ancient rock carvings which have been nominated for a UNESCO World Heritage listing.
Those sites lie near an industrial zone where there are two liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants run by Woodside Energy Group and fertilizer and explosives plants run by Norway’s Yara International.
“This is an unprecedented opportunity to consider all the impacts of every industry on the Burrup on our sacred rock art sites and provide permanent protections in federal laws,” said indigenous woman Raelene Cooper, who applied for the review under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.
Plibersek last month rejected a request by the same group seeking to block construction of a A$4.5 billion ($3.0 billion) fertilizer plant after consulting the local representative group for the traditional owners, the Murujuga Aboriginal Corp, about its potential impact on ancient rock art.
“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,” Cooper said in a statement.
($1 = 1.4848 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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