So much for our governments acting ‘for the people’. Wheeling and dealing with the Mining Lobby, undue pressure, bribery, coercion and scandals seem to be the norm these days. Both State and Federal as bad as each other. Oppositions in waiting support these activities too, especially here in the West.
Much as I am disturbed by a number of Green Policies, they have it right here...
“There are already a number of questions and lingering doubts the gas hub project and this revelation simply adds to them.
“Yesterday we saw some leadership being taken by the environment minister Tony Burke in adopting the recommendations of the Australian Heritage Council. Even though they fell short of what we would have liked to see, it was nonetheless a step in the right direction.
“It seems that Minister Burke’s capacity for leadership may not extend to his colleague, resources minister Martin Ferguson.
“No doubt the release of these cables is a great embarrassment to all concerned.
“I would encourage the joint venture partners to take a step back and seriously question the merit of the James Price Point gas hub,” Senator Siewert concluded.
At least one opposition MP, federally, has the right idea here:
Your request was discussed by the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee … Having considered several options available to this Department to ensure the protection of Aboriginal sites in the area while allowing you to use the land the Committee decided that Mining Lease MLO4/81 should not be excised from the Proposed Protected area,
This proposed protected area never eventuated but the site was declared. Prior to becoming a member of this place this time, I did a lot of work for the mining industry. One of the first things a major corporation does when looking at development is undertake ground survey work. It looks at who the pastoralist is and at the land tenure. Then the corporation goes to the Department of Indigenous Affairs to look at the sites register. It appears that neither Woodside nor the government went to DIA, where they would have discovered that the area was covered by an Aboriginal heritage site, which is referred to as Walmadan site ID13076. On seeing something like that, people in the industry would immediately go to the traditional owners and say, “We wish to disturb your site and therefore we seek permission to do so.” Then under section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act, an application is made seeking permission to use that ground for whatever purposes. That goes before the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee for decision making. Guess what? Woodside, one of the best corporations in Western Australia, missed a fundamental tenet of its requirements, and failed to lodge a section 18 application for Walmadan site ID13076. Earlier this month, on 15 June, I wrote to the Registrar of Aboriginal Heritage Sites and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs asking why a section 18 application had not been lodged. My understanding is that, as we speak, members of the department are at the site trying to ascertain why that was the case.
The site has been well known for years because, historically, it has been on the register for a very long time, and, as we have seen from the former registrar, Vera Novak, there were concerns about the site even back in the 1980s. The site is one of a series that runs along the Lurujarri Heritage Trail, which runs from Rubibi, which is Broome, up to Minarringy, which is Coulomb Point. It is interesting to go through this process. I think we need to realise that, indeed, Indigenous people in the Kimberley are becoming very concerned about the opening up of the Kimberley for industrialisation.
I would like to now refer to a comment made by Dr Anne Poelina, a traditional owner of Mardoowarra, who recently said —
There is no leadership from government, state or commonwealth and the deficit approach to Indigenous economic development is enshrined in the policy “get a mine” and you will all be “closing the gap”
This is one of the things that Indigenous people are faced with. They are not being provided with the services that are needed for communities but are having to sell some of their land or to do deals. She went on to say —
while governments “close their back to the opportunities my people have been building for the past 10 years”.
With that she refers to the burgeoning tourist industry and individual economic development programs that have been put in place by Indigenous people right across the Kimberley. We need to have some respect for what is going on at James Price Point on the Minari road. It is a group of people supporting traditional owners in stopping Woodside as best they can from entering their country….The Liberal Government’s President of the Upper House,Norman Moore’s response, was just an echo of the Premier’s Department and Woodside’s own propaganda. The Wikileaks Cables and the documents from the Wilderness Society, give the lie to the Government’s comments.