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Federal Government agrees to probe of industry impact on Murujuga cultural heritage

Giovanni Torre -

The Federal Government will review industrial development on Murujuga in response to an appeal raising concerns about the threat to ancient Aboriginal rock art in the area.

The Save Out Songlines group applied in February for Federal authorities to appoint a special reporter to conduct a cultural heritage assessment of all industry on the peninsula.

On Wednesday, Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek agreed to the application for an assessment of all industry on Murujuga.

It comes after Ms Plibersek in August rejected an application to halt works on Perdaman's $4.5 billion fertiliser plant planned for the area next to Murujuga's best-known rock art collection.

Ms Plibersek said at the time that the plan was supported by the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, which she said represented the views of most Traditional Owners in the area.

Following that decision revelations emerged MAC and its circle of Elders did not want Perdaman to move sacred sites, but the company told them there was no other option which forced Traditional Owners into a compromise.

The WA Government approved the removal under the same derided laws which allowed the destruction of Juukan Gorge.

Perdaman has repeatedly failed to respond to requests for comment.

Now a special reporter will review industry and make a recommendation to the minister on whether to order new protection of Indigenous heritage on the World Heritage-nominated peninsula.

Save Our Songlines spokeswoman Raelene Cooper said the review was an opportunity to provide permanent Federal protection for Murujuga's rock art and sacred sites.

"However, the refusal to grant our section 9 application still allows for damage and desecration of our sacred Murujuga rock art while this assessment is underway," she said.

"The community will be outraged if this failure from the government to ensure cultural safety allows for another Juukan Gorge while the Section 10 assessment is still ongoing.

"This government benefited from the votes of many First Nations people who elected them on the basis of their commitment to the Uluru Statement, but too often Indigenous voices are still ignored by government if it's inconvenient for industry."

In August, Ngurrangga Tours owner, Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi mayaga (man) Clinton Walker, urged Australians angered by Rio Tinto's destruction of Juukan Gorge to turn their focus to Perdaman's urea plant.

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