Kimberley

‘SiteWatch’ report reveals thousands of Aboriginal heritage sites have been deregistered

Thursday, 2 July

Since the Barnett government came into office in 2008 at least 3,207 Aboriginal heritage sites have lost their registered status, according to a new report.

WA Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal Affairs Robin Chapple MLC said the report was extensive and revealed much more disturbing long-term trends about the assessment and protection of Aboriginal heritage sites.

“This is now about much, much more than the 37 sites deregistered on faulty advice from the State Solicitor’s Office (SSO) prior to the Robinson vs Fielding Supreme Court decision,” Mr Chapple said.

“What this report proves is that the Barnett government has all but abandoned its statutory responsibilities to protect Aboriginal heritage in Western Australia.

“Not only have more than 3,000 sites had their status, and hence protection, downgraded but since 2010 the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC) has rejected 86% of new site submissions. Prior to 2010 that number was only 10%.

“What is most confusing about the data in the report however is the sheer number of site status changes – more than 14,000 – that occurred across this time period, often into new categories that were later removed.

“Under the Aboriginal Heritage Act the status of any site must be assessed by the ACMC. Given the ACMC monthly meetings have radically shortened under its new chair I find it very hard to believe that any of these status changes have been given proper consideration.

Mr Chapple said Aboriginal people across WA were deeply concerned about their heritage despite Department assurances that every action was undertaken with consultation.

“At the Department of Aboriginal Affairs estimates hearing last week I was assured that all informants (Traditional Owners) were told whenever a decision was made about a heritage site,” he said.

“Yet I’ve had a great many people contact me fearful about places that are significant to them and to their people; they’ve heard nothing.

“The government’s handling of Aboriginal Affairs since 2008 has been absolutely to the detriment of Aboriginal people. We are currently presiding under a government who will stop at nothing to open doors for industry and to refill its own severely depleted coffers.”

For comment please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

Media liaison: Tim Oliver // 0431 9696 25          

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Minister promotes further anxiety about the closure of remote communities

Tuesday, 30 June

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier has further confused the debate around remote community closures after commenting that the Kimberley and Pilbara regions were the government’s primary focus.

Mr Collier made the comments at a regional cabinet meeting held in Kalgoorlie over the weekend after being questioned by a Ngaanyatjarra elder.

WA Greens spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs Robin Chapple MLC said comments such as these only added to the anxiety being felt by Aboriginal people living in remote communities throughout Western Australia.

“When will this government start to take the concerns of Aboriginal people seriously and tell the truth about their plans to close remote communities,” Mr Chapple.

“On one level we have the official line which is that no decisions about closing communities have been made, and won’t be made until proper consultation has taken place.

“Yet we continue to hear from various government representatives that some communities are known to be unsustainable, and now that only communities in certain regions will be targeted.

“I’m glad the Minister is not focused on closing communities in the Goldfields region, but what does that mean for people in the Pilbara and the Kimberley. They are only left further in the dark by this revelation.

“Furthermore, industry representatives have revealed the government has given them reassurances about remote communities that may fall within their jurisdictions. So why does this government insist on keeping Aboriginal people in the dark?

“As the WA Greens have said from the start, any policy concerning the provision of services to Aboriginal people living on country in remote areas needs to begin with a conversation and a willingness to actually listen.

“The Minister, his Department, the Government’s handling of this issue, and indeed the concept of closing remote communities at all, is absolutely deplorable.”

For comment please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

Media liaison: Tim Oliver // 0431 9696 25          

 

 

Reports of roaming cattle flooding in from Kimberley

Reports of roaming cattle flooding in from Kimberley

Tuesday, 9 June

There are almost daily reports of high cattle numbers on the Great Northern Highway between Broome and Derby, according to Greens member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC.

“I was contacted just yesterday afternoon and alerted to an incident involving a learner driver just 80 kilometres out of Broome on Roebuck Plains Station,” Mr Chapple said.

“Photographic evidence confirms the incident involved a collision with roaming cattle, and I would be very surprised if nobody in that car was injured.

“This same contact told me they had counted 148 cattle on the Highway between Broome and Derby that afternoon, including 76 on Roebuck Plains Station alone.

“I find it very hard to believe that Western Australia is, as the Transport Minister has said, ‘leading the nation’ in keeping cattle of roads given the frightening reports that I receive from constituents on a weekly basis.

“Main Roads and the Department need to urgently reassess their commitment to animal mitigation because at the moment, it simply is not working and is only a matter of time before more lives are lost.“

For comment please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

Media liaison: Tim Oliver // 0431 9696 25          

James Price Point stripped of any heritage value

Tuesday, 2 June 

WA Greens spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs Robin Chapple MLC has expressed dismay at revelations site ‘LSC11, the ‘Lurujarri Song Cycle’ path, is not considered to be of heritage value by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA).

Walmadany, or James Price Point, is an Aboriginal site of immense mythological value to all Aboriginal communities from Broome (Minyirr) through to Coulomb Point (Minarriny) for its place in the song cycle path.

Mr Chapple said it was curious that the State Solicitor’s Office (SSO) advice on section 5(b) of the Aboriginal Heritage Act (AHA) was sought within the timeframe of the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee’s (ACMC) assessment of the ‘song cycle path’.

“Advice from the SSO allowing a new interpretation of section 5(b) of the act was endorsed by the ACMC at a time when the government was simultaneously pushing ahead with its Browse industrial hub proposal for James Price Point,” he said.

“This same SSO advice allowed for the song cycle path to be removed from any heritage lists entirely and it’s record is now kept by DAA in the heritage category of ‘Stored Data/Not a Site’.

“We are talking about a significant piece of heritage for the Aboriginal communities of the Dampier Peninsula, an oral heritage map or living memory of the landscape and its traditions passed down through generations.

“Whilst I’m not suggesting there was any malicious intent behind these actions, I do find it curious that a place of such significance was stripped of any legal heritage value at the same time as this controversial project was being promoted by the government.

“Aboriginal site LSC11 was lodged by DAA officers on 27 July 2011 as an Aboriginal Heritage site with section 5(a) – (d) of the AHA being shown as applicable.

“I would like to see a promise from this government that, in light of the recent Supreme Court decision and sheer weight of protest against development at this sacred site, any Aboriginal sites associated with James Price Point, especially LSC11, will be reassessed for their heritage value with renewed vitality.”

For comment please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

Media liaison: Tim Oliver // 0431 9696 25         

Greens Kimberley forum a resounding success

Tuesday, 26 May

The WA Greens have praised the Kimberley community for its engagement on a range of important regional issues at the Kimberley Green Future Forum, hosted in Broome over the weekend.

Australian Greens Deputy Leader Senator Scott Ludlam and Senator Rachel Siewert joined WA Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC for the public forum.

Threats from fracking and large scale uranium mining, the closure of remote indigenous communities, uncertainty around the rollout of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, renewable energy uptake in the Kimberley and changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act, amongst other issues, were all brought to the table.

Mr Chapple said it was fantastic to be able to have a conversation with the community about issues that were genuinely important to them; regional areas, particularly the far North of WA, are too often ignored by politicians.

“For us, the Greens, it was about getting up there and showing that we care about Kimberley issues and are willing to fight for them at a state and federal level,” he said.

“As a member representing the Mining and Pastoral region it was also exciting to be able to give my electorate the opportunity to engage face-to-face with my federal colleagues just as I know they were excited to be there.

“I was personally humbled that we had such a great turnout, especially members of the East Kimberley Greens who had travelled from Kununurra and some who had come in from the desert, and such a high level of intelligent engagement; Kimberley people are passionate about protecting this beautiful and unique region and I applaud them for it.”

For comment please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

Media liaison: Tim Oliver // 0431 9696 25          

Government should remember promise to help Broome’s homeless

Monday, 18 May

Greens member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC has reminded the Government of their promise to address homelessness in Broome.

After a Four Corners story exploring Colin Barnett’s threats of Remote Community closures aired recently, the spotlight moved to Broome and its homelessness epidemic.

“A short stay Visitors Centre was promised to be built in Broome 5 years ago, but the construction fell apart due to disagreements over the location of the building,” Mr Chapple said.

“Nothing has been done since the proposal fell through, the $13 million set aside for Broome was moved to Derby and Kalgoorlie, leaving no means with which to house Broome itinerants.

“The government set out trying to solve a problem but left when it got too hard, and it seems they haven’t done anything to address it since.

“Hopefully the Four Corners program will have reminded people that the problem was never fixed and, if the proposed closures of remote communities goes ahead, it will only get worse.

“Short stay Visitor Centres are alcohol-free, family friendly sites that can cater to a high number of people for up to a few months and includes meals and access to support services.

“A centre like this would be truly beneficial for the more that 100 homeless people in Broome.”

For comment please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

Media liaison: Tim Oliver // 0431 9696 25          

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