Murujuga Traditional Custodians have called for a moratorium on further industrial development on the Burrup Peninsula until an independent investigation of heritage values and threats is undertaken by the United Nations World Heritage Committee.
The Save Our Songlines group was responding to the deadline for the World Heritage Nomination for the area which is also the site of contentious liquified natural gas and fertiliser projects at Woodside's Burrup Hub.
A leaked 2018 cabinet briefing to WA Premier Mark McGowan noted that World Heritage nomination "could deter new industrial development without careful management" because "there may be a reluctance for new industries to locate on the Burrup Peninsula should World Heritage listing go ahead before companies have obtained key project approvals."
Murujuga traditional custodian Raelene Cooper, a Mardudhunera woman and former Chair of the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, said:
"Woodside’s planned Burrup Hub gas expansion is fundamentally incompatible with the protection of cultural heritage on the Burrup Peninsula, or Murujuga.
“Support for this nomination from Woodside and the WA Government is deeply hypocritical while they are at the same time pushing ahead with projects that will destroy the very cultural values the listing is supposed to protect.
“Woodside’s gas developments have already destroyed thousands of pieces of irreplaceable and ancient rock art. The planned expansions will destroy more sacred sites, and increase the acid pollution that is destroying much of the rock art that remains.
“Before these industries are allowed to do any more damage, the UN expert group must undertake its independent assessment of the values and threats, and identify the full extent of values worthy of protection.
“We strongly support the listing process - it should have happened years ago - but we are under no illusions that this will protect areas of outstanding universal value that are directly under threat from Woodside, Perdaman and other industry expanding on Murujuga.
“If the Commonwealth Government is serious about protecting our cultural heritage, then they must halt industry expansions on Murujuga to prevent further damage before the heritage values of the area can be independently assessed.
“The heritage assessment by the United Nations will bring international attention to the cultural genocide and abuses of human rights that continues on Murujuga and we look forward to working with the UN heritage experts to expose what is happening to our unique cultural heritage.”