Burrup faces heritage list hurdles

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
Hearson Cove.
Camera IconHearson Cove. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr

The push to World Heritage list the Burrup Peninsula has been backed by major industry operating in the area, but a listing is unlikely in the near future as the bid faces several hurdles.

After matching the former government’s election commitment to World Heritage list the peninsula, the Labor Government is now waiting to get all the ducks in a row before submitting a bid.

Acting Environment Minister David Templeman said Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation was yet to formalise its position on any potential bid. “Once it does, the State Government will be in a position to progress the nomination to the Commonwealth Government,” he said.

“To comply with UNESCO’s guidelines, the potential nomination of the Burrup Peninsula would then need to be progressed onto the World Heritage Tentative List by the Commonwealth Government. A potential nomination must be on the list for at least 12 months before a formal submission can be made.”

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Mr Templeman said this would be followed by further consultation between the State and Federal Governments before submitting a nomination.

Adding further complications to the heritage bid is the delayed report from an inquiry into protection of Aboriginal rock art on the Burrup Peninsula.

Findings were due in March, but have been pushed back several times and are now not expected until October, assuming no further delays.

Woodside corporate and legal senior vice-president Mike Abbott said Woodside would support a World Heritage push by the traditional owners.

“We are a key stakeholder here and we recognise the importance of the area,” he said. “It is certainly not something we would be advocating against, but it needs to be driven from the people here as well.” Rio Tinto communities and communications general manager Linda Dawson said World Heritage listing was on the agenda. “We would certainly be getting behind that if it is the sort of recognition they would like to see,” she said.

Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said he would love to see the area recognised for its World Heritage values.

“We are waiting for the inquiry to come out then I am going to meet up with the Aboriginal Affairs Minister and hopefully we can make a concerted decision to move forward,” he said.

“It is really significant having 30 to 40,000 years of history here,” he said.

Mr Michel said industry and government needed to ensure strong safeguards were in place to protect environment and culture on the Burrup.

Several speakers once again used the recent Cossack Art Awards opening night to call for World Heritage listing of the peninsula, noting its global significance to Aboriginal art and culture.

Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation failed to respond to a request for comment.

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