An appeal by Zenith Australia to revoke a stop work order on Yakka Munga Station has been partially allowed by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson.
After the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation found the Chinese-owned company had illegally cleared 120 hectares of native vegetation in June, a stop work order was issued to prevent further land clearing on the station.
The stop work order was only issued after Nyikina Traditional Owners took action and protested the clearing at the station’s entrance on June 19.
Zenith has since appealed the order, alleging the clearing was not unlawful as it was for the purposes of pastoral activities, specifically the construction of roads and provision of stock water.
Although the Appeals Convenor did not withdraw the vegetation conservation notice, approximately five hectares of the cleared area was exempted – with Zenith citing it to be used for the “establishment of tracks.”
Minister for Environment Stephen Dawson allowed the appeal in part, meaning the conservation notice will be amended to exempt the five hectares earmarked for roads.
The notice, however, still upholds that no further unlawful land clearing occurs.
Nyikina Traditional Owner Wayne Bergmann said the Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) for Yakka Munga Station has continued to be ignored and that the land is still bound by Native Title.
“It raises questions about [the] integrity of the environmental system, that you can clear land that has Native Title on it,” Mr Bergmann said.
Mr Bergmann said decisions like this also bring concerns as to why Traditional Owners bother to negotiate ILUAs at all.
“It’s really a mockery.”
Despite protests and litigation, there has been no substantive dialogue between Zenith Australia representatives and Traditional Owners.
Nyikina Traditional Owners are convening in Derby tomorrow to discuss further actions.