Juukan Gorge inquiry ‘visits’ WA

Issues with travel to Western Australia can’t stop the parliamentary inquiry into the destruction of Indigenous heritage sites at Juukan Gorge, with the Northern Australia Committee set to virtually go West next week to speak to Western Australian stakeholders.

Northern Australia Committee Chair Warren Entsch says that despite the closure of the border with Western Australia, the Committee is continuing to take evidence from Western Australian stakeholders.

‘The Committee remains committed to travelling to Western Australia, but in the meantime we will speak to as many people as we can by video and teleconference,’ Mr Entsch said.

‘Monday’s hearing will allow us to speak to a range of people working on the frontline of heritage protection.’

In its submission, the Yinhawangka Aboriginal Corporation highlighted the importance of Indigenous control of Indigenous heritage. ‘Expert voices—Aboriginal people, archaeologists and anthropologists—supported by technical and regulatory infrastructure that befits a first world country, should substantially make these technical decisions’, it said. ‘No single person should have the power, at the stroke of a pen, to destroy sacred places or places that are an important part of the human story.’

Western Australian MLC, Robin Chapple, also emphasised the need to empower Traditional Owners in their dealings with government and industry. ‘Claim wide participation agreements should cease,’ he argued. ‘These contracts, to a large degree, are structured in such a way that many of the signatories and participants to these claim wide contracts had little understanding of the enormity of the unfettered access granted by these agreements to mining corporations, over massive swathes of country.’

Programs are available on the Committee’s website.

Public hearing details

Date: Monday, 21 September 2020

Time: 10:00pm to 1:00pm AEST

Location: By video/teleconference

Witnesses include:

Mr Cedric Davies (Submission 82)

Woodside Energy (Submission 79)

Yinhawangka Aboriginal Corporation (Submissions 38 & 44)

The Hon Robin Chapple MLC (Submission 65)

The hearings will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

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