Indigenous leaders have welcomed the resignations of Rio Tinto’s executives in response to the shocking destruction of cultural heritage — but say more needs to be done, including a freeze on any further approvals under WA’s Aboriginal Heritage Act. Prominent Indigenous academic and anthropologist Professor Marcia Langton told The West Australian while the Rio Tinto board itself might “view this bloodletting” as a sufficient response it was not. “Rio Tinto has an enormous task ahead of it to rebuild a competent corporate culture and operation that meets international and Australian standards for engagement with communities, especially traditional owners wherever their mining operations are located,” Professor Langton, who is one of the co-chairs of the group designing the Indigenous voice to parliament, said. She also said she supported calls made by Liberal MP Warren Entsch, who is chairing the Federal parliamentary inquiry investigating Rio Tinto’s actions, to freeze any further approvals under the controversial Section 18 of the State’s Aboriginal Heritage Act, until the probe is complete. “The legislation across Australia, and especially in Western Australia, needs to be empower the traditional owners to say whether or not cultural heritage can be destroyed,” she said. Professor Langton, who rejected Rio Tinto’s attempts to recruit her to help them with their PR disaster, said the company had lost its way under the direction of chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques, who has now resigned. She said it had taken the company too long to get rid of him. “Shareholder associations I think have had a big impact, they are alarmed at the incompetence of Rio Tinto,” she said. The National Native Title Council (NNTC) welcomed the news but also called for Rio’s London-based Chair Simon Thompson to request for a large-scale cultural change within the mining company. “It would have been an insult to Indigenous peoples that the same executives who presided over the destruction of their sacred site should be the same executives who were to be entrusted with implenting the changes needed,” NNTC CEO Jamie Lowe said in a statement. “Traditional Owners are not anti-economic development. They just want to be able to protect their most significant cultural heritage sites.” Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation, who represent that traditional owners of the Juukan Gorge, said they had no comment to make about the changes to Rio Tinto's senior executive, but would continue to work with the big miner to ensure a tragedy like this “never happens again”. “We will continue to work with Rio Tinto in the aftermath of the Juukan Gorge disaster. Our focus continues to rest heavily on preserving Aboriginal heritage and advocating for wide-ranging changes to ensure a tragedy like this never happens again,” the Corporation said in a statement. “We cannot and will not allow this type of devastation to occur ever again.” The bloodletting was welcomed north of the Pilbara, where the destroyed sites are located, from the Kimberley region’s leading native title peak body. Kimberley Land Council’s CEO Nolan Hunter welcomed the news of Rio cleaning house but said that it shouldn’t have taken this long. “I think they’re reacting, by the looks of it, to their shareholders. It was a bit weak because it took that meeting for them to do something,” he said. “They weren’t gonna do anything if it wasn’t for the shareholders.” Mr Hunter said he and other native title organisations have tried to be as supportive as possible to the PKKP Traditional Owners but said their pain has been felt by any Indigenous people. “We’re all understand what it happened to them because it happened everywhere- the destruction of a heritage area- we still have concerns about how they allowed for something like this to go ahead.” Coalition of Peaks lead convener Pat Turner said the resignations were a "symbolic recognition of (Rio Tinto's) immoral decision to destroy the Juukan Gorge despite their national and cultural significance”. "What is important now is that this sort of wanton destruction of our cultural and sacred sites never happens again," she said. "Governments across Australia need to negotiate and agree with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives new laws that fully protect our cultural heritage. "All governments have committed to shared decision making with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on matters that have a significant impact on us as part of Closing the Gap, and this should absolutely apply, without exception, to our cultural heritage, rights and interests. "The draft Aboriginal Heritage Bill 2020 should not be introduced into the Western Australian Parliament until it has been negotiated and agreed by Aboriginal representatives in Western Australia."