The Guardian • Issue #2050

“No empathy, no morals”

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2050
Burrup rock art.

Burrup rock art. Photo: Neil McCabe – (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

The following is a statement from Murujuga traditional custodians responding to the announcement today (25th April) that Perdaman will begin the immediate removal of sacred rock art sites to build a fertiliser plant. Despite claims from WA Premier Mark McGowan on the Burrup today, cultural heritage assessments and consultation with Murujuga traditional custodians remain incomplete.

Kuruma Marduthunera traditional custodian and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act Section 10 Applicant Josie Alec said:

“I don’t know what to say. I am so angry and hurt right now. It is a sad, sad state of affairs. The free, prior and informed consent has still not been given to Perdaman to remove these rocks – not all traditional custodians have been consulted on this. We as traditional custodians are still in the process of setting up a meeting with Perdaman which they have tried to arrange for next week.

“We still have an outstanding cultural heritage assessment of industry damage to Murujuga under Section 10 of the Heritage Protection Act. How can they go and remove rocks straight away when they are supposed to be consulting with us first, and they have actually invited us to a meeting? Shame on them.”

Raelene Cooper, Mardudhunera woman and the former chair of the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, said:

“Premier Mark McGowan has always stood for industry and pushed for industry to go ahead, green-lighting everything because he is looked after very well by Woodside. With the corrupt way they’ve handled and mishandled the wishes of Western Australian people, especially for First Nations people McGowan has a lack of respect, a lack of empathy and no morals.

“In 2016 McGowan sat on Murujuga with a multitude of people beside him signing a document pertaining to the World Heritage nomination because of the Burrup’s unique universal value which is globally noted. However, today, McGowan stands there quite proudly with a shovel to dig into the ngurra, the ground, giving the green light to go ahead and destroy the very rock art that holds the World Heritage values of our Country.

“How do these people sleep at night? McGowan and his team of very smart, intelligent people have done nothing but belittle and deceive and lie to the Australian public and to First Nations people. Yesterday we had ANZAC Day for all those Australians who fought for us, including our First Nations people who were never acknowledged, yet today in 2023 First Nations people are still fighting for our country. And yet we’re fighting our own government. It is Incredible, remarkable, and absolutely disgraceful – how do these people sleep at night?”

“This is not over, we are coming. There are consequences in our lore, there are consequences when they disrupt and disturb our Elders and our history.” 

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