Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley thanked the Joint Standing Committee for Northern Australia into Juukan Gorge for its work in delivering a final report today, saying that the findings would play an important role in her ongoing initiatives to strengthen the protection of Indigenous cultural heritage.
The Minister said that Juukan Gorge represented a tragic failure on the part of Rio’s interaction with Traditional Owners, and that it highlighted a wider need for the modernisation of Indigenous heritage protection laws in Australia.
“I will closely review the recommendations of the Committee within the context of the work I have already commenced with the Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt,” Minister Ley said.
“This year’s Budget included funding for an engagement process that will work closely with Traditional Owners in identifying the best frameworks and model practices.
“Traditional Owners must be at the centre of considering the recommendations of both this committee and any potential legislative reform.
“When state and territory representatives met with the Commonwealth on this issue there was a collective view that Juukan Gorge should be a launchpad for reviewing and modernising Indigenous cultural heritage laws. That process is underway.
“Most importantly, Indigenous Australians must be part of that process.”