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Government fast-tracking endangers Kakadu World Heritage status.



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MEDIA RELEASE

 

Australian Conservation Foundation

34D Gore Street, Fitzroy

Victoria 3065

Telephone: 03 9416 1186

Facsimile: 03 9416 0767

 

JUNE 21,1991 

 

GOVERNMENT FASTTRACKING ENDANGERS KAKADU WORLD HERITAGE STATUS

 

The Federal Government's “develop at all cost’ attitude to the Jabiluka uranium wine was putting at risk Kakadu’s status as one of the world’s few World Heritage areas listed for both cultural and natural values, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

 

ACF Executive Director Don Henry said it would be a tragedy for Kakadu, Australia’s international reputation and a blow to the tourism industry if the actions of the Government and mining company ERA resulted in our premier National Park was placed oaths World Heritage “in danger” list.

 

"There are serious question marks over the whole approval process for this mine.

 

“The news this morning (SMH P5) that construction of the mine has started despite one of the Commonwealth’s so-called stringent conditions necessary before it went ahead not having been met is deeply concerning,” Mr Henry said.

 

Mr Henry called on the Government and ERA to stop construction of the mine until the company complied with a Commonwealth requirement that “it must develop” a cultural heritage management plan for Aboriginal sites in the area "prior to project construction commencing".

 

“The Federal Government should not be playing fast and loose with Kakadu, an area of extraordinary beauty and biodiversity that is close to the hearts of all Australians and of great significance internationally," he said.

 

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will this week consider putting Kakadu on the “in danger” list, the final step before the loss of World Heritage status, at its meeting in Paris.

 

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) the organisation which advises UNESCO on the status of World Heritage areas, has prepared “a statement of concern” about Kakadu because of the possibility that Jabiluka, a second uranium mine within the park, may go ahead.

 

It is expected also that a delegation of the Mirrar people, traditional owners of the area affected by the Ranger and the Jabiluka mine, will address UNESCO tomorrow (Wednesday) to tell it Kakadu’s cultural values are threatened by the second mine.

 

The delegation is lead by Mirrar elder Yvonne Margarula and Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation executive officer and ACF national councillor, Jacqui Katona.

 

Mr Henry called on the Federal Government to follow the example set by US President Bill Clinton when Yellowstone National Park was put on the "in danger" list and stop the Jabiluka mine.

 

“President Clinton moved to stop a proposed gold mine, outside, but adjacent to Yellowstone Park, because it put the park's World Heritage status in doubt. Our Government should do the same thing.

 

“A second uranium mine within Kakadu should be considered unthinkable. If the reputation of this environmental wonderland is put at risk, all Australians will know who to blame," Mr Henry said.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT ACF MEDIA OFFICER WAYNE

SANDERSON ON 0417 723 661 OR 02 6262 5362.

 

 

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