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Wednesday, 2 March 2011
Page: 967

Senator LUDLAM (3:37 PM) —I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 185, standing in my name and the name of Senator Siewert, in the terms which I understand have been circulated in the chamber.

Leave granted.

Senator LUDLAM —I, and also on behalf of Senator Siewert, move the motion as amended:

That the Senate—

(a)   notes that:

(i)   the largest single rock art site complex, which is also the largest outdoor rock art complex in the world, is that located on the Dampier Archipelago,

(ii)   the rock art located on the Dampier Archipelago provides the most significant and intact continuous chronology of human endeavour in the world and as such identifies that the rock art and its chronology is unique and irreplaceable, and

(iii)   it is widely acknowledged that the Dampier Archipelago contains approximately 2.5 million carvings, and in the 117 km2 of the Burrup Peninsula (formerly the Dampier Island) 10 000 pieces of rock art have been destroyed at a minimum with a further 2 000 remaining in the Western Australian Museum’s fenced compound; and

(b)   calls on the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities to instruct the Australian Heritage Council to do an emergency review of the outstanding universal values of the Dampier Cultural Precinct and any threats to those values.

Mr Acting Deputy President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Trood)—Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator LUDLAM —I thank the chamber for leave, and I would also like to thank the government for the spirit in which they have approached this amendment, on behalf of myself, Senator Rachel Siewert and advocates for the extraordinary cultural and heritage values of the Burrup rock art province, known on maps, I suppose, as the Dampier Archipelago and known for a much longer period of time as Murujuga. This is an area that Senator Siewert and I have had quite a long association with. Obviously, it has a vastly longer association with the traditional owners of the area, the north-west Pilbara. There are somewhere between half a million and a million petroglyphs, or rock art engravings, on the Burrup. For senators in this place who may not have given themselves the time to visit, I strongly advocate spending some time on the Burrup.

This motion, by agreement with the government, instructs the Australian Heritage Council to do an emergency review of the outstanding universal values of the Dampier cultural precinct and threats to those values. The threats are real and present. Woodside recently blasted flat more or less a square kilometre of this extraordinary province for the Pluto petrochemical plant on the Burrup. Woodside have also committed extraordinary cultural violations, in my view, in the original siting of the gas plant, and there is other damage, with ongoing vandalism by people coming and going on the Burrup. This emergency review of the heritage values is extremely welcome. It is long overdue. We hope it will end eventually, after not too long, with this precinct being listed for its World Heritage values, which have been acknowledged for a long period of time.

I should also mention my friend and colleague Robin Chapple MLC, who has been a long-time advocate for Murujuga, the Burrup Peninsula, and of course FARA, the Friends of Australian Rock Art. I ask the minister—if you are able to by leave—to just briefly describe for us what an emergency review actually means in the context of heritage laws in Australia. I look forward to this getting underway as rapidly as possible.