Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Gomeroi People have launched a State and Commonwealth Parliamentary petitions to ask parliament to instruct Minister Hunt to protect their burial and sacred sites, and for the State parliament to instruct MP Hazard to include these sacred sites for protection under the Aboriginal cultural heritage conservation strategy Whitehaven is obligated to develop.

We fear the Minister Hunt and MP Hazard will simply continue to ignore our submissions for protection, therefore we have taken the steps to launch Parliamentary Petitions and we will be gaining signatures in the hope that the whole of parliaments will do a better job at protecting our culture and heritage. We will be meeting with a number of Parliamentary ministers and senators in order to discuss our concerns and our petitions.

We will be taking our petitions to Gomeroi people and the general public as we simply do not believe that the average Aussie wouldn’t give us a Fair Go and would not support the protection of our ancestor’s burials. We are not about stopping the mine we are seeking protection of these areas and the mine has the ability to do so and still get about their business of mining.

Our Elders and community would welcome anyone who would like to assist us in collecting signatures. These signatures can be from your local playgroup to church group, universities and schools and workplaces or from local communities groups or just from your family and friends. We can be contacted on 0413 131 983 and ask to speak to Dolly Talbott or simply send a sms and we can get back to you. We welcome anyone throughout Australia who would like to assist.

It’s now 85 days and still Minister Hunt does not declare protection stating that he is still considering and needs to determine whether the sacred areas listed in our application are under threat. We say to the Minister- Come to Whitehaven Coal Maules Creek and come and see for yourself with our Elders and community that the bulldozers have ripped up our sites and they are digging and disturbing our ancestors.

What we find extraordinary and disgusting is that Minister Hunt’s inaction is allowing Whitehaven to target the areas we have identified as needing protection. It’s not as if there haven’t been alternatives provided to Whitehaven and the Minister. Whitehaven will be mining Maules Creek and in the Leard State Forest for about 30 years, yet they can’t stop works at these sites when there are other areas they can be working. We are upset that Whitehaven treat our gravesites with disrespect and use the words "alleged burials "to further insult our families and increase the dispute between our people and Whitehaven.

Minister Hunt advisor informed us last week that he is too busy to have even a ten minute phone call with our Elders- we are not sure what is making him so busy as it sure doesn’t look like it’s our sec 18 (emergency 48 hours stop works) our sec 9 (temporary 30 day stop works) nor our section 10 ATSIHP Act (permanent protection) applications. We fear that he is failing our Elders and community and not doing his job.

We believe that MP Hazard is also not doing his job. We have lodged a section 121 stop works with the State government and Mr Hazard office has not even bothered to respond to a request for a ten minute phone call with our Elders, let alone undertaken any serious review of our concerns. The Liberal party at both Commonwealth and State levels appear to be sitting on their hands while Whitehaven who within their executive is a director, Mr Mark Vaile who is a former  Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and former Liberal party member proceed to desecrate and destroy these areas and not wait for Ministerial outcomes to our applications.


We ask why is the Minister failing to take immediate action to protect?

Media contact Dolly Talbott on behalf of the Gomeroi Elders     Phone - 0413 131 983

Keywords

Aborigines, Aboriginal, Whitehaven

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