On the 3rd of July, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources made the long awaited announcement that the Dampier Archipelago would be placed on the National Heritage List. The question now is, just what it means?
Of the area in which National Heritage values occur, 99% or 241 square kilometres has been included in the listed place. The 1% excluded is the area now known as the BurrupLNGPark where Woodside’s Pluto LNG processing plant will be located. Whilst there is an argument about the 1%, recognition must be given that the area listed is very substantial and significant.
The listing recognises that the place has outstanding heritage values to Australia possessing rare aspects of the nation’s cultural heritage, having the potential to yield information that will contribute to a better understanding of Australia’s cultural heritage, and demonstrating a high degree of creative and technical achievement. You can read the full list of National Heritage Values on the National Trust’s Dampier Archipelago website, http://www.burrup.org.au/Gazette.pdf
The listing represents an important milestone in the conservation of this unique part of Australia. Throughout the long process since the place was nominated there was always the possibility that a far greater area would be excluded from the list in line with the state government’s development plans for the region, or due to opposition from industry and government that the place would not even be listed.
Over the next year the federal and state government will negotiate a “bilateral agreement” which will govern the management of the place. The challenge now is to ensure that this involves a robust management regime that is appropriately funded and supported. Integral to this is the establishment of a single holistic management body, underpinned by legislation, an integrated management plan for the whole archipelago, and a comprehensive inventory of the place. In addition to this the place should be put on Australia’s tentative list for World Heritage. Discussions have been occurring between the state and federal government and there are drafts of agreements being circulated. Unfortunately this process does not involve the direct participation of non-government stakeholders.
Click here for key National Trust recommendation for the management of the place
The recent development proposals put forward by the Dampier Port Authority is an area of great concern and needs to be re-examined in light of the listing. Click here
Though the area listed is far greater than could have been expected as little as a year ago, the relocation of over 200 pieces of art in Woodside’s BurrupLNGPark is of great concern. This area comes under the protection of state legislation, but unfortunately the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 has demonstrably failed to ensure the protection of the rock art and the Heritage Council of Western Australia, despite visiting the place with its full Council, appear to also have failed to recommend the place for inclusion on the State Heritage Register, therefore depriving the area of the protection afforded by Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990. It isironicthat this place which has been identified as having National Heritage values and Shark Bay which has World Heritage values are absent from the Western Australia’s State Heritage Register.
It is also important to note that National Heritage Listing of the Dampier Archipelago recognised the existence of heritage values for all Australians, and that it was not simply an indigenous heritage matter.
Despite the exclusion of the BurrupLNGPark the listing is an important step forward and the Federal Minister should be congratulated for his decision. It is also extremely encouraging that the State Government and Industry welcomed the National Listing.
Now is the time for round table discussions bringing all stakeholders together to develop robust and world class management strategies for this remarkable part of the world.
Friends of Australian Rock Art (FARA) is hosting an art auction at the MooresBuilding, 46 Henry Street, Fremantle, on Sunday 29th July 2007. Funds raised will go towards FARA's efforts to increase local, national and international public awareness of the fragile and unique heritage value of the art and archaeology of the Dampier Archipelago.
News Update 6 June 2007
The last eight weeks has seen a great deal of activity and growing public awareness and concern for the art and archaeology of the Dampier Archipelago.
The threat of inappropriate industrial development persists and has been recognised by the World Monuments Fund’s announcement today that the Dampier Archipelago has been placed on its World Monuments Watch 100 Most Endangered sites for the third consecutive time.
Click here to go to the World Monuments Fund website
The Woodside Petroleum Limited Annual General Meeting held in Perth, Western Australia on 19 April, saw evidence of growing public concern with “Get Up Australia” delivering a 40 000 strong petition calling for the long term protection of the archipelago, and representatives of the Uniting Church making a strong statement condemning industrial development on the Burrup Peninsula.
In the same week, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull, the Federal Minister for Heritage visited Dampier Archipelago and was clearly moved by the majesty of the place. The Minister made an unequivocal commitment to place the archipelago on the National Heritage List, stating “The near-term objective is for a listing by the middle of the year with conservation agreements entered into with the relevant companies that will give everybody a degree of certainty.”
Click here to view the webcast of Malcolm Turnbull’s trip to the Dampier Archipelago
Prior to this Lt Gen John Sanderson, former Governor of Western Australia, threw is weight behind the campaign to protect theart and archaeology of the place with a speech and a number of media interviews and in the last few days former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has joined the chorus advocating conservation for this unique part of Australia.
Click here to read the transcript of Lt Gen J Sanderson’s interview on ABC TV’s Report.
For the first time ever, the conservation of the Dampier Archipelago received front page coverage in Western Australia’s only daily paper the West Australian. The coverage followed a speech in Federal Parliament by the Hon Carmen Lawrence, former Premier of the state and now Federal Member for Fremantle. Her speech quoted from the yet to be publicly released report prepared by Jo McDonald, Cultural Heritage Management for the Australian Heritage Council regarding the National Heritage Values of the Dampier Archipelago. This report makes it clear that, “The current footprint of industry on the Burrup Peninsula, and its anticipated spread, present both direct and indirect impacts which place cultural heritage—and the art of the Archipelago—at high-risk of being endangered.” This report is significance as it served as the basis of the advice given to the Federal Minister in his deliberations on the listing of Dampier Archipelago.
Click here to read Carmen Lawrence’s speech to Parliament
The National Heritage Listing of the place is expected in the next few weeks, the critical issues that will come out of the listing are the boundary of the heritage listed area and the management regime established to protect the heritage values of the place.
News update 13 March 2007
Following the announcement to defer the National Heritage Listing of the Dampier Archipelago by Malcolm Turnbull, Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Resources there was a flurry of media activity. Articles appeared in the national media and there were a number of television news reports.
The following week came the expected approval for work to commence on Pluto Site B. Interestingly the Hon. Michelle Roberts, Minister for Indigenous Affairs made the announcement in parliament and not through a press release which has been the normal pattern of events.
Copies of the announcement made in Parliament can be found here.
In the same week National Trust representatives met with senior officials of the Department of Environment and Water Resources (formally the Department of Environment and Heritage). This meeting was very positive and marks a new level of consultation and open dialogue between the National Trust and the Department of Environment and Water Resources (DEW). The National Trust is hoping to meet with Malcolm Turnbull the Minister for the Environment in the next few weeks. At this stage the primary focus of DEW is finalising the proposed boundaries and determining the broad content of the Bilateral Agreement between the State Government and the Commonwealth, which will underpin the statutory protection of the National Heritage Values of the Dampier Archipelago.
Unfortunately it seems that the Department of Industry and Resources (DOIR) is yet to abandon its commitment to massive industrial development on the BurrupPeninsula irrespective of the heritage values of the place and still insists that it is the lead agency in the management of the heritage values of the Dampier Archipelago. This represents a clear conflict of roles. However preliminary discussions have begun between DOIR and the National Trust on how we can work together, at this stage these discussions have been positive.
Nevertheless we are now arguing over the boundaries and the content of the Bilateral Agreements and not whether the place should or should not be listed. And this represents a significant move forward.
News update 23rd February 2007
Yesterday (22nd of February) Malcolm Turnbull, Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Resources announced that he was deferring the decision on National Heritage Listing of the Dampier Archipelago until the middle of the year.
“As the new Environment Minister I intend to consult with the Western Australian Government, Indigenous and industry groups and other relevant parties to ensure the long term protection of the area’s heritage values and national interests. The Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 provides me with this opportunity.”
“I appreciate the strong public interest that exists and I want to emphasize that the Australian Government is continuing to work towards a National Heritage listing for this important place. Establishing an appropriate boundary and coming to an agreement about management arrangements are the crucial steps towards a listing.”
This is very disappointing. It is now nearly three years since the place was nominated to the National Heritage list, and six months since the Australian Heritage Council advised the Minister that the place has outstanding National Heritage Values.
Though a negotiated outcome is admirable, it is hard to see how this can be achieved when the state’s Department of Industry and resources refuses to budge on their plans for massive industrial development on BurrupPeninsula.
On the same day, the CEO of the National Trust of Australia (WA), Tom Perrigo met with the Get up team in Sydney. Get Up delivered a 24,000 strong petition to Mr Turnbull’s electoral office on Tuesday and continue to be extremely committed to their “save our heritage” campaign, They will be making sure that the Federal Minister knows exactly what people think. Please visit their website for information on the next stage of their campaign. http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/SaveOurHeritage.asp?campaign_id=61
Senior staff from the Department of Environment and Water Resources will be visiting WA next week for a number of meetings about the Dampier Archipelago. They are scheduled to meet with the National Trust on Tuesday. Interestingly at the Senate Standing Committee on Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Committee, meeting on the 16th of February, DEWR staff explained that they were consulting a number of stakeholders including the National Trust. Three, half hour meetings in 12 months does not amount to a genuine process of consultation, this is particularly so given that the National Trust is one of the three nominators of the place.
The National Trust has grave concerns that DEWR lacks a genuine commitment to an open and transparent process of consultation.
News update 19th February 2007
On the 7th of February, Michelle Roberts, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs met in Karratha with representatives of the indigenous groups with an interest in the Burrup Peninsula.
The National Trust has been told that those present clearly stated their opposition to further disturbance of Rock Art as a consequence of the development by Woodside the Pluto Site A & B. This has been confirmed by a number of sources.
The Minister is yet to make a decision regarding the “Section 18” application (approval to disturb indigenous heritage sites) for Pluto Site B.
Site work has begun in earnest on Pluto Site A, it has been reported to the National Trust that up to 60 panels of rock art have been moved. Photographs purportedly of activity on Pluto Site A are available on Robert Bednarik's web site "Save Dampier Rock Art" http://mc2.vicnet.net.au/home/dampier/web/vandal.html
It is understood that on Friday the 23rd of February, Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull will make an announcement about the National Heritage Listing of the Dampier Archipelago.
The National Trust believes that the place should be listed as per the boundariesrecommended by the Australian Heritage Council (essentially all undisturbed land of the archipelago) and that the heritage values of the place be manage by a properly funded independent body with a single holistic management plan. Any management arrangements (plan) that does not recognize the failure of the heritage management processes of the past will be simply inadequate. National heritage listing that devolves management back to the very agencies that have overseen the destruction in the past will test the credibility of the National Heritage List.
Opposition to the Department of Environment and Conservation's plan to open up the north of the Burrup Peninsula to tourists by building a visitors centre, road access and accommodation is growing with industry offering to fund a visitor/rock art interpretation centre elsewhere. You can find the National Trust's critique of the Department of Environment and Conservation's proposal at http://burrup.org.au/Resources_and_Links.html
The National Trust website on the Dampier Rock Art http://www.burrup.org.au/ has been revamped.Between August and December, the PDF version of the National Trust commissioned report, "Art and Archaeology of the Dampier Archipelago", written by Dr Caroline Bird and A/Prof Sylvia Hallam was downloaded over 5000 times. The content of the updated website is based on this report, making it even more accessible. This report and other information can be found at http://burrup.org.au/Resources_and_Links.html
The staggering growth of public interest in the Rock Art of the Dampier Archipelago over the last few months has been demonstrated by the massive growth in "hits" on this website. In January 2006 it received just over 10,000 “hits”, in January2007 it had grown to over 200,000.
Friends of Australian Rock Art are continuing their "Stand up for the Burrup" campaign with successful events in France and Germany. For more information, check out the "How can I help" section of our rock art website http://www.burrup.org.au/How_can_I_help_.html
News update 22nd January 2007
Work has now commenced on Pluto site A to relocate at least 40 petroglyphs, in some cases where it is not possible to relocate boulders or primary rock on which these rock carvings are located, attempts are to be made to remove the face of the rocks by use of a diamond saw and/or drills.It is notknown the precise nature of activities or whether the processes will beeffective as Woodside is refusing to grant access to their operations.It is also not known if any Government Agencies such as the WA Museum orDepartment of Environmental Protection is monitoring these activities.
This whole process is questionable when one considers that Woodside stated in a press statement to the Australian Stock Exchange on 8 December 2006that the Board will make "a final investment decision on the Plutodevelopment by mid 2007." Whilst it is likely to obtain all approvals itis still the National Trust's position that relocation of rock art adversely affects the heritage values.
In essence Woodside are now removing petroglyphs ahead of their ownfinancial decision on the project and ahead of any decision by the EPA that approval for the Pluto project may or may not be given.
News update 4th January 2007
Woodside's proposed Pluto LNG facility still going through the rigors of various assessments to utilize one of the most important heritage areas of the Burrup ay Holden Point. Michelle Roberts, the new Minister for Indigenous Affairs will have to deliberate on what to do as a result of the recommendations of the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee onWoodside's applications to move or destroy heritage material on its proposed Site B on the Burrup. It will be interesting to see what her first decision as the new Minister will be in respect of these recommendations. The Trust understands the Aboriginal Materials Committee has recommended against the development at this point in time.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is to evaluate the Woodside Pluto LNG project offshore component and their facilities on the Burrup. Submissions on this have to be in tothe EPA by the 19th February 2007. They have already been very disappointing as they refused to acknowledge the scientific value of the rock art that was to be lost.The National Trust believes the EPA's decision is seriously flawed. Information on the Plutoproposal is available at: The Department of Conservation and Environment are still to conclude their response to thepublic submissions on their Burrup Peninsula Conservation Reserve which plans to open up thenorthern end of the Burrup with a roadway through the wilderness area and the establishmentof visitor and tourism infrastructure in the northern protected area. They state that publicaccess is one of the key objectives of management plan. As a result of the proposed road the Government is now moving ahead with a plan for a multi- million dollar marina in WithnellBay. The speaker of State Parliament has thrown his weight behind this proposal, saying "With the planned interpretive centre at the northern end of the BurrupPeninsula a road would eventually run right past the proposed location". The NationalTrust believes this development will destroy the heritage values of the region and that itis stopped. He expected a consultant's report would be finished and a decision reached by June this year.
The Governments position on the Burrup and the Islands of the Dampier Archipelago as an industrial hub remains intact. "We have dreamt of this area becoming the most importantindustrial region in the southern hemisphere for twenty - thirty years, finally therealisation is starting to happen" ABC 22/12/2006.
The Federal Minister for Environment and Heritage whilst having rejected the Emergency Heritage listing for the Burrup, lodged by the three parliamentarians; Peter Andren, Carmen Lawrence and Rachel Siewert, is still due to hand down his decision on the three original heritage nominations this coming February.
News update 18th December 2006
We await without much hope the deliberations on the Emergency listing by Senator Ian Campbell the Minister for the Department of Environment and Heritage, due to be handed down on 27 December 2006. Aljazeera International is already expressing interest in running a major piece on Minister Campbell's decision.
During the week we became aware of a statement by the North West Shelf Joint Ventures that they had been informally advised by the Department of Environment and Heritage that the Burrup was also under consideration for nomination as a World Heritage property. This had created much consternation with the partners as a number of them had international policy that precluded development within World Heritage areas.
On Sunday, December 17, 2006 Bob Brown spoke at the National Press Club where he referred to Western Australia's BurrupPeninsula, with its World Heritage value Aboriginal rock art, now threatened by Woodside's selfish wish to bulldoze for an industrial gas liquification plant which should be built further up the coast.
It is our understanding that Emeritus Professor John Mulvaney will be talking on the Burrup and its Heritage values on the Radio National Breakfast show in the nextcouple of days.
News update 4th December 2006
National Heritage List
The last week of November saw a massive number of submissions arrive at theDepartment of Environment and Heritage in response to Senator Ian Campbell's call for further information on whether he should add the Dampier Archipelagoand Burrup to the National Heritage List.
GetUp are to be congratulated, their site initiated hundreds if not thousandsof extra submissions.
Both Woodside and the State Government are to be commended for at last agreeingto support National Heritage listing. What this will mean to the final use ofthe Burrup is less clear. Woodside are still pressing on with its planned use of one of the most densely carved areas of the Burrup at Holden Point.
Proposed Burrup Conservation Zone and Indigenous FreeholdLand
The week also saw a flurry of responses to WA State parliamentary questions whichenabled the National Trust to determine once and for all the the conservation zone on the Burrup was not the touted 60-62% but was in fact 48.5101 squarekilometres = 41.2%.
Lord McAlpine of West Green has written to the Prime Minister and Alan Carpenterasking them stop further heritage destruction on the Burrup:
"For Australia, who were one of the first signatories to the UNESCO Declaration Concerning Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage which was actually developed as the result of the Taliban's destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas, it is scandalous that they are now ignoring their own commitments and are acting as cultural vandals on an international scale."
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Amendment Bill.During this debate in Federal Parliament a number of members have sought to raisethe issues around the imminent threat to the heritage values of the DampierArchipelago. These were: Mr Garrett (Kingsford Smith), Ms George (Throsby), Mr Andren (Calare), Mr Brendan O'Connor (Gorton), Dr Lawrence (Fremantle) with only Mr Martin Ferguson (Batman) speaking in support of continued industrialisation of the Burrup.
It is now clear that all indigenous custodians have now in many different ways expressed the views that there should be no further industrialisation of theBurrup that impacts on their cultural heritage.
The process of assessment of applications for further relocation and/or destruction of cultural material on the proposed Woodside Pluto site (B) by the AboriginalCultural Materials Committee was to take place on 13 December. Thismeeting has now been brought forward to7 December. It is know howeverthat indigenous custodians have asked for this meeting to be postponed untilFebruary next year. We await the outcome of this meeting with bated breath.
Almost in the same breath whilst agreeing to support National Heritage listingthe state government is now supporting a new proposal to build a Marina on the Burrup at WhithnellBay. "The best location would be WhithnellBay" Parliamentary Speaker, Fred Reibling.
News update 23rd November 2006
Dr Carmen Lawrence addressed the AustralianICOMOS conference in Fremantle. Her speech was on the planning processinvolved in Woodside's 'Pluto' project with particular reference to its impact on the rock art of the BurrupPeninsula.
As a follow up to that presentation the conference delegates passed the following resolution on the BurrupPeninsula:Delegates to the Australia ICOMOS Annual Conference in Fremantle on 11 November 2006,
- Noting the listing of the Burrup Peninsula Rock Art sites in theInternational ICOMOS Typological Study of Rock Art;
- Noting the listing of the Burrup Peninsula Rock Art sites on theWorld Monuments Fund Watch list of the one hundred most endangered sites;
- Noting that the Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, has invited comments on the proposed inclusion of the Dampier Archipelago (including the BurrupPeninsula) on the National Heritage List by the 28th November;
- Noting the assessment provided to the Minister by the Australian Heritage Council and its recommendation to add the place to the National Heritage List; and
- Noting with concern that proposed industrial development for the area may further detrimentally affect the significant values of the Rock Art sites and cultural landscape,
RESOLVED to ask the Executive Committee of Australia ICOMOS to request the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell,the Premier of Western Australia, the Hon Alan Carpenter, and the Western Australian Minister for Heritage, the Hon Michelle Roberts, to act with urgency to:
- Ensure that the cultural heritage values of the Rock Art sites and theircultural landscape are retained and protected and that any activities on the sites retain and respect these values;
- Ensure that an appropriate and effective environmental and heritage management regime, in accordance with the principles and processes of the Australia ICOMOS Code on the Co-Existence of Cultural Values and the Burra Charter, is established to protect the sites and their vicinity; and
- Request that alternative sites be investigated for the proposed development, which would avoid adverse heritage impacts on the Burrup sites and their cultural landscape.
This resolution was endorsed in the form above by the Executive Committee of Australia ICOMOS, at its meeting on 12 November 2006.
Now advocates of a 'win-win' solution for Burrup and our economy includethe most unlikely allies: a former Labor Premier of WA and a former Liberal Minister for State Development both argue Burrup should become a heritagesite, with further development moved to more economically profitablelocations and traditional custodians consulted.
We had previously advised that the Woodside's section 18 Notice (application to clear sites on the Burrup) for Pluto site B, which went before theAboriginal Cultural Material Committee (ACMC) at its ordinary meeting on Tuesday 1 November 2006 had been deferred until the 13th December 2006. We now understand that this meeting has now been moved forward and will take place on the 7th of December.
Recent parliamentary questions in the Legislative Council Numbers 3932, 4200, 4201, 4314, have identified that the statements pertaining to land area in the DEC plan for the Burrup Conservation Area, part of the Burrup Maitland Industrial Estates Agreement, is 60-62% of the Burrup is demonstrably wrong.The area of the freehold title land in square kilometres of the Burrup Peninsula land transferred to the Aboriginal Approved Body Corporate as the conservation reserve is 48.5 sq km, and the land are of the Burrup is 118 sq km. The industrial lands as per the BMIEA agreement is 14.8 sq km. This means the conservation area and the area handed to the native title claimants is in fact 41.1% of the Burrup not the championed 60%.
How did the Minister acknowledge this massive mistake:"Following the analysis of public submissions on the draft plan, estimates for the conservation reserve will be revised for the final Burrup PeninsulaConservation Reserve Management Plan 2006 - 2016."
Three major news stories are currently being developed, two Nationally and one in London.
The review of the Department of Indigenous Affaires being conducted by DawnCasey is almost complete and should be with the Minister for IndigenousAffairs in the near future. Await the outcome of this with baited breath.
In the next few days the Minister for the Environment is expected to handdown his decision on the National Trust of Australia (WA)'s appeal on the EPA failure of process in the assessment on Pluto site A. It is also expected that the full assessment (a Public Environmental Review) of the Pluto development for both A and B sites on the Burrup will commence in either December or January.
News update 17th November 2006
Dr Carmen Lawrence gave an impassioned speech on the Burrup to the ICOMOS(International Council on Monuments and Sites) 2006 National Conference held in Fremantle 9-11 November 2006.Dr Carmen Lawrence says, "There is no end to the ways in which money can be made.But every petroglyph that is destroyed on the Burrupis destroyed forever.Woodside could - and still can, with the assistance of theState Government - put all its considerable financial and intellectual resourcesinto building an adequate LNG processing plant somewhere else.But if you wanted to re-create even a single petroglyph you would need at the very least a time- machine; you would need to become the appropriate custodian of the cultural meaning of these rock engravings; then you would need to learn how to make them; and finally, with the hard work finished, you would only have to wait 10,000 years."
Her speech will be available at http://www.carmenlawrence.com/ from Monday 20/11/06
North West Joint Venturers will still negotiate with Pluto to use disturbed land, WA Government needs to take the lead. On the 18th of October, Nigel Wilson wrote in the Australian that the North West Shelf Joint Venture partners had rejected a bid by Woodside to process gas from the Pluto reservoir through the existing facilities at the existing gas processing site on BurrupPeninsula.
We all thought this was shameful as the area being looked at on the JV site by Woodside Pluto had already been desecrated and cleared of all the rock art. Such a move to this location would have saved further destruction and relocation of 100's of petroglyphs on the current proposed Pluto A and B industry sites.
It is of interest to note, given that the Australian identified: "The proposal would have saved Woodside hundreds of millions of dollars by avoiding a need for a green-fields site away from the existing plant. A greenfields Pluto development would cost $US5 billion ($6.6 billion). But the other NW Shelf export phase partners, BHP Billiton, BP, Chevron, Shell and the Mitsubishi-Mitsui joint venture, Japan Australia LNG, are thought to have rejected the plan." That it now appears in letters from the JV partners to the National Trust of Australia that they all indicate a willingness to collaborate with Pluto in helping to resolve heritage issues through sharing of infrastructure on commercially negotiated terms. Woodside who had indicated to the Australian that the negotiations had fallen over now say they do not discuss matters pertaining to the joint venture partners!
It appears that either Woodside Pluto do not wish to try to resolve the heritage mess they find themselves in or external pressures are being brought to bear on them to continue down this demonstrably wrong path. There is still plenty of time to resolve this issue, the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee and Aboriginal Affairs Minister are still to hand down there decision on heritage destruction on Pluto Site B, the Minister for Environment is still considering an appeal to its scientific processes on their Pluto Site A evaluation and has yet to receive and to consider industrial plans for both site A and B.