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Jabiluka a perpetual conflict without talks - three days for cultural plan talks a joke: Democrats.



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MEDIA RELEASE

 

Senator Lyn Allison

Australian Democrats

Spokesperson on Nuclear Issues

 

May 18, 1999 99/281

 

Jabiluka a perpetual conflict without talks

 

Three days for cultural plan talks a joke: Democrats

 

Mining in the Kakadu region would be doomed to perpetual conflict if Energy Resources of Australia presses ahead with construction at Jabiluka without having completed a cultural heritage management plan with traditional owners, the Australian Democrats said today.

 

Spokesperson on nuclear issues, Senator Lyn Allison, was commenting as construction at the proposed uranium mine at Kakadu National Park stopped today for three days to enable discussion of the required cultural plan.

 

“It is an outrageous joke for ERA to stop work for just three days to complete a cultural management plan that will actually take months,” Senator Allison said.

 

Both the Commonwealth Government and last year’s UNESCO Mission to Kakadu said the preparation of a cultural heritage management plan should be a prerequisite for the mine to proceed.

 

Until now, the traditional owners of Jabiluka, the Mirrar, have refused to enter into talks with ERA on the plan until construction is ceased. After protests last week that the Boyweg-Almudj sacred site complex was threatened and subsequent pressure from all quarters, ERA announced it would suspend construction for three days to enable the talks to go ahead.

 

“Any company planning to mine in an area such as Kakadu should be aware of the cultural sensitivities of the region. To date, ERA has only shown contempt for the Mirrar people and their cultural beliefs.

 

“ERA and the Commonwealth Government dispute the Mirrar’s claims regarding Boyweg-Almudj site, imputing that the traditional owners are making it up as they go along. Apart from being patently offensive, this sort of behaviour can only result in conflict with traditional owners,” Senator Allison said.

 

In another development, Senator Allison criticised the Northern Territory Government for misleading the public with its statement today that it had not been given long enough to prepare a written submission for the Jabiluka Senate inquiry.

 

“There were four weeks available for submissions and we understand that the Northern Territory Government was notified earlier this week that they would be given an extension if they had problems meeting the May 21 deadline. The Minister for Resource Development has chosen to ignore this and come out guns blazing today. It’s a cheap political shot and nothing more,” Senator Allison said.

 

Senator Allison said the Senate Environment References Committee, which she chairs, is keen to hear from the Northern Territory Government on Jabiluka, but should be spared the politics of mining.

 

“The Committee’s task is to assess the approvals process for Jabiluka to ensure it has met the requirements of Australian environmental law in a proper manner. This is our priority, we will not be deterred by the Northern Territory Government,” Senator Allison concluded.

 

Contacts: Justin O’Brien on 0411 473 697

Senator Lyn Allison 015 691 512

 

 

 

lk  1999-05-20  11:22