Australian Government Fails to protect ancient cultural heritage on the Burrup

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Garrett must take seriously allegations of damage on the Burrup: Greens

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Greens Senator for WA Rachel Siewert has urged the Minister for Heritage, Peter Garrett to take seriously potential damage to a national heritage-listed site on Western Australia‘s Burrup Peninsular.

“We hear that the Heritage Minister’s Department has gone to the trouble of seeking expert archaeological and legal advice about whether multinational Cemex has damaged artefacts of national heritage significance on the Burrup,” Senator Siewert said.

“We now need to know the outcome of this advice and what Minister Garrett plans to do about it.

“The public has reason to be concerned about whether a serious breach of national heritage has occurred.

“Cemex, a  cement company, has admitted to operating within the boundary of the Burrup national heritage site but denies doing any harm to rock art.

“On the other hand, the location is known to be densely covered in rock art estimated to be thousands of years old.

“The WA Government is taking this issue seriously and is reportedly prosecuting Cemex for breaching the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act.

“Maximum fines under the WA Act for a corporation committing a first-time offence of damage to an Indigenous heritage site are $50,000 or $100,000 for a second offence.

“This compares to fines of up to $5 million for a corporation and up to seven years’ jail for individuals who damage national heritage listed sites.”

“The Minister must have information about this damage to the Burrup’s national heritage, but appears to have failed to act.  Now he has a chance to rectify this Ministerial oversight by prosecuting this act of destruction, and taking steps to ensure no more irreplaceable rock art is lost for no good cause,” concluded Senator Siewert.

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