Yakabindie heritage a 'line in the sand': Greens

January 10, 2003 - The WA Government has clearly indicated it is prepared to override the wishes of Traditional Owners and its own Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC) in allowing applications by WMC to violate numerous sacred sites for the Yakabindie Nickel project, Greens (WA) MLC Robin Chapple said today.

“The Labor Government was elected on a platform which made a committment to ‘recognition and respect for the unique status of Indgenous peoples as the original inhabitants of Australia.' There is nothing in their policy which covers calculated abuse of heritage legislation.'

“The Aboriginal Heritage Act has become a mechanism for systematically desecrating Aboriginal sacred sites against the wishes of the Aboriginal people,' Mr Chapple said. “This Government is telling the community that Aboriginal heritage will not be allowed to stand in the way of mining, no matter how strenuous the opposition or how important the heritage issues. I am horrified that a Labor Government is prepared to permit this blatant dispossession.'

Mr Chapple stated that he would be pushing for a review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act this year, amid concerns that the Government is using the Act selectively to permit broad scale destruction of heritage sites (s 18) while ignoring important provisions relating to protection of sites and appointment of honorary heritage wardens (Part VII).

“Yakabindie will be an important test case, a line in the sand, to see how hard it is to get this Government to live up to their election commitments.'

“It makes me sick to think that this can happen in 2003,' Mr Chapple said.

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