Significant milestone for protection of Murujuga country

  • Cook Government co-signs Statement of Intent, confirming commitment to an agreement-making process in support of World Heritage Listing of Murujuga
  • Statement outlines principles to guide negotiations for the management of Murujuga country
  • Government confirms transfer of 250 hectares previously set aside for heavy industrial use to Murujuga National Park

The Cook Government has signed a Statement of Intent to guide an agreement on the management, protection, and conservation of Murujuga country, also known as the Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago.

Last year, the Australian Government nominated the Murujuga Cultural Landscape for inscription on the World Heritage List, recognising the area’s ‘Outstanding Universal Value’, including its extensive petroglyph collection.

The Australian Government has funded the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) to undertake a Strategic Agreement Making Project which will support the World Heritage Nomination.

The Statement of Intent outlines how government, industry and the MAC will work together to negotiate the terms of a Strategic Head Agreement, to support the management of the peninsula while encouraging ongoing economic opportunities.

The statement was earlier signed by Commonwealth Environment and Water Minister Tanya Plibersek, and was today signed by Premier Roger Cook, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Dr Tony Buti, Environment Minister Reece Whitby, Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation Chairperson Peter Hicks and representatives from Rio Tinto, Woodside, Yara Pilbara, Perdaman Industries, the City of Karratha and Horizon Power.

It comes as the Cook Government confirmed the transfer of four undeveloped land parcels to the Murujuga National Park, expanding the park by 254 hectares.

The four sites, located in the Withnell Bay area, were originally set aside for heavy industrial use as part of the Burrup Strategic Industrial Area.

A previous transfer of Site L at the north of Conzinc Bay occurred in July 2019, with plans to transfer four additional undeveloped industrial sites underway.

The World Heritage-nominated Murujuga Cultural Landscape has an estimated one to two million petroglyphs and is a 100,000ha area encompassing the Burrup Peninsula, Dampier Archipelago and surrounding seascape.

As stated by Premier Roger Cook:

“My Government is proud to work with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, Commonwealth, and industry stakeholders to advance the World Heritage nomination of the Murujuga Cultural Landscape.

“Murujuga has enormous cultural significance, and only by working with Traditional Owners can we ensure that culture is protected, and can co-exist with industry in the area.

“This Statement is an important step to empower Traditional Owners supporting economic opportunities.”

As stated by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Dr Tony Buti:

“Murujuga has immeasurable cultural, spiritual, and archaeological significance to Aboriginal people who have looked after this area for more than 50,000 years.

“The WA Government looks forward to working with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and industry stakeholders on the Strategic Head Agreement and to further advance the application for World Heritage status.”

As stated by Environment Minister Reece Whitby:

“By signing this Statement of Intent, the WA Government is committing to the principles of environmental sustainability, protection of cultural heritage and the recognition of Aboriginal knowledge.

“It is an opportunity to build positive relationships based on respect and equality so we can work towards a mutually beneficial outcome that supports the protection and conservation of the Murujuga landscape.”

As stated by Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation CEO Kim Wood:

“Today’s signing results from a long campaign by MAC to have its cultural authority valued and a willingness from government and industry to move towards a modern framework that recognises Traditional Owners’ and Custodians’ self-determination and equal status in decision-making.

“MAC is looking forward to working with the signatories to form a Heads of Agreement, following processes aligned with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the principle of free, prior and informed consent.

“This new and innovative agreement-making process will allow the co-existence of this spectacular and unique cultural landscape with industry, while creating certainty and stability – it’s a truly great step forward for Murujuga Country and its Custodians.”

/Public Release. View in full here.