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Tuesday, 17 August 1993
Page: 158

(Question No. 368)


Senator Chamarette asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, upon notice, on 18 June 1993:

  With reference to the concerns of the Barngala people of South Australia over mining by the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd (BHP) at Iron Princess:

  (1) What process of consultation took place between the Barngala people and BHP over the effect of mining at Iron Princess on sites significant to the Barngala people.

  (2) When did these consultations take place and for how long.

  (3) Who was involved in the consultations.

  (4) Has the Minister's attention been drawn to the statements by the South Australian Minister for the Environment (Mr Mayes) that the consultations were effective; if so, will the significant sites be given the fullest possible protection under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984.


Senator Collins —The Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question.

  (1) The Minister has been advised by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) that the concerns of the Aboriginal community first arose not during any direct consultations in the past on mining at Iron Princess, but from an invitation to the Barngala (spelt Barngarla) people by BHP to visit a proposed waste dump site in the vicinity of mining at Iron Princess.

  (2) Since the concerns were raised with BHP by the Barngarla people, following their visit to the proposed dump site, there have been satisfactory ongoing consultations between BHP and the Barngarla people. These consultations have been assisted to an extent by the appointment by the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs of the Hon Hal Wootten AC, QC under Section 10(1)(c) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984. The Hon Hal Wootten AC, QC was also appointed by the Minister under Section 13(3) to attempt to resolve the dispute by mediation.

  (3) The current rounds of consultations have involved BHP, traditional Aboriginal owners, the Barngarla Aboriginal Consultative Committee and the Hon Hal Wootten AC, QC.

  (4) Yes. However, a function of the appointment of a person under Section 10(1)(c) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 is to provide a report on the matters set out in Section 10(4) of that Act. These matters include the adequacy or otherwise of the processes used by the State, and by other relevant parties such as BHP, to ensure the adequate protection of significant Aboriginal areas and places which may be under threat of injury or desecration. The Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs is not able to exercise his powers to make a declaration under the Act until he has received and considered the report which has been commissioned from the Hon Hal Wootten AC,QC.