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  • Save Our Songlines

Tanya Plibersek fails to protect Murujuga

Minister Plibersek this week announced she has rejected the application for ATSIPHA Section 9 protection of sacred Murujuga rock art sites that will be destroyed and desecrated by the Perdaman fertiliser plant at the Burrup Hub in Western Australia.

The following statement is from Murujuga traditional custodians and Save our Songlines spokeswomen Raelene Cooper and Josie Alec, who are Mardudhunera women and made the Section 9 application:

“This is a very disappointing decision by a Minister who clearly hasn’t done her homework. If she had read through all the documents provided as part of the Section 9 process she would not have made this decision, which is based on faulty reasoning and false conclusions.

"The Minister refers to a handful of sites but the documents provided to her by Perdaman mention up to twenty sites that will be impacted by this proposal. The Minister suggests the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation is legally constituted to speak for traditional custodians but its own members and elders say they are gagged and cannot oppose or object to projects. The Minister wrongly suggests that the Murujuga Circle of Elders unanimously approved the Perdaman project but Elders repeatedly expressed opposition to relocating rock art. Mardudhunera women are not represented on the Circle of Elders despite being one of the five language groups.

"Murujuga traditional custodians and the wider community are outraged and disappointed by this decision. Last month the whole community came together in the largest ever protest on the Burrup and marched to the proposed Perdaman site, where sacred rock art will be removed and desecrated. It is incoherent and dangerous to refuse to protect these sacred sites on Murujuga while the Minister is still considering a cultural heritage assessment under Section 10 of the Act. The community, the country and the whole world will be outraged if this leads to another Juukan Gorge because the federal government would not stand up to industry and protect sacred Aboriginal sites from further destruction.”

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