Stage set for ruination of Murujuga, the Burrup Peninsula

January 17, 2003 - Yesterday's announcement by the Western Australian Government that industrial development on the Burrup Peninsula would go ahead has sent a chilling message to local and international campaigners fighting to preserve the heritage province for all time.

The Government has admitted that it is considering nominating the Burrup for World Heritage Listing now that industrial sacrifice zones have been established at Hearson Cove, Withnall East and along associated infrastructure corridors.

'The Government has finally become dimly aware of the value of the site, on the same day they sign off on an agreement to wreck a substantial part of it,' Mr Chapple said.

'It is now quite clear that in Western Australia, Aboriginal heritage is fine as long as it doesn't get in the way. We will be happy to exploit Indigenous culture and iconography until such time as a conflict arises with heavy industry. Then we send in the bulldozers.'

Mr Chapple reiterated his call for an overhaul of Aboriginal Heritage and Native Title Legislation. 'Somewhere along the line, the legal right of a sovereign people to decide what happens on their land has been converted into a right to be 'consulted' and eventually paid out. In practice, this leads to the kind of coercive practices we have seen on the Burrup. 'Negotiation' has become a one-way path to a predetermined outcome set by the Government of Charles Court in the late 1960s.'

Mr Chapple has predicted that the national and international outcry over the well-publicised risks to the rock art province will intensify, not diminish, as a result of the announcement. 'Over the next few months the Government is going to have to show the international community what their commitment to Aboriginal heritage actually looks like in the real world. And I think if we let them get away with it, it's going to look very ugly indeed.'

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