Australia is committed to enacting legislation to protect Aboriginal heritage

Sydney (Australia), November 24. The Australian government on Thursday promised to promote a series of legislative reforms aimed at protecting Aboriginal heritage, following the destruction in 2020 of some sacred caves by mining company Rio Tinto.

“These reforms are not intended to slow development or stop progress. They are about correcting the imbalance (with indigenous communities),” Australian Environment Minister Tanya Plebersek told parliament in Canberra.

Plebersk today presented the government’s response to eight recommendations – made by a legislative committee in October 2021 – to improve protection of cultural heritage after the bombing of the sacred caves in the Goukan Gorge, in the country’s northwest, and 46,000-year-old Antiguati. .

According to experts, Juukan is the only place in the Australian Outback with evidence that humans have occupied it since the Ice Age.

As part of implementation, the government has today begun a process, in alliance with indigenous representatives, to reform heritage protection laws and standardize regulations at the local and provincial levels across the country.

The Labor government, which came to power in May promising to hold a referendum to recognize First Nations, has declared that it wants Indigenous voices to be represented on every stage, in every meeting room and in every decision made. pointed out.

The minister indicated that the executive authority has adopted seven of the eight recommendations, while it will continue dialogue with indigenous representatives on the remaining recommendation, indicating that the final responsibility rests with the chief of environmental or indigenous affairs.

Rio Tinto carried out bombings on May 24, 2020 near the Goukan Strait, a remote area sacred to the indigenous Putuo County Kurama people and located in the Pilbara region, in the northwest of the peripheral country.

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Despite the outrage over the incident, Rio Tinto did not break “any law”, Lebirsk admitted, noting that this was possible due to agreements signed in 2013 by the mining company with the indigenous population – before archaeological evidence was found. And also as the weakness and inconsistency of regional and national laws.

“This is not an isolated error, nor an example of corporate insanity,” he said. Rather, “our system is not working.”

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