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NSW Elders express disgust at 'criminal' secret Mungo Man burial

Tom Zaunmayr -

The secret burial of the 42,000-year-old remains of Mungo Man and Mungo Lady in NSW has sparked condemnation from a group of Mutthi Mutthi, Barkindji/Paakantji and Ngiyampaa Elders

The Elders described the decision to place Mungo Man and Mungo Lady in unmarked graves as a 'horrific, criminal act', after they were removed from a secure vault in the Mungo National Park Visitor Centre

An urgent application had been lodged on behalf of the Elders challenging the burial plan.

On May 20, the Elders wrote to former Federal Environment Minister Susan Ley and NSW Environment Minister James Griffin seeking an assurance the reburial would not proceed for at least 14 days to enable the application.

The request was granted by the Department of Planning and Environment on May 23, with confirmation "the burials will not proceed tomorrow while your client's application is being considered."

A Department spokesperson on Tuesday told the ABC the the NSW government had postponed reburial so the new Federal minister could consider the application.

Mutthi Mutthi Member Jason Kelly said they only became aware the remains had been removed and reburied on Tuesday.

"This is an outrage against our culture, our heritage, our history, our People. We want to know how this has happened and who is responsible for this desecration," he said.

"We have long-objected to the delay in the reburial of the remains and reminded them of the obligation to seek our consent, but they have ignored us and gone ahead and desecrated Mungo Man and Mungo Lady, the most important human remains ever found in Australia.

"This is just so disrespectful on all fronts and goes against the wishes of hundreds of past and present Elders who have pleaded for a culturally-appropriate reburial for our ancestors."

Mr Kelly urged Mr Griffin to tell the group where the remains were buried so they could provide a culturally-appropriate public memorial on Country.

Former environment minister Sussan Ley had pushed ahead with the secret burial.

She said in April extensive consultation had taken place with nine Traditional Owners as part of the Willandra Lakes Aboriginal Advisory Group.

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