State back flips on FMG Conditions
WAY NOW CLEAR FOR FINAL OBLITERATION OF YINDJIBARNDI HERITAGE
Last Tuesday, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Peter Collier, reneged on an earlier commitment to hold Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) accountable for identification and protection of Yindjibarndi heritage in the path of its Solomon Project mine. After FMG demanded that critical conditions of his consent be deleted, Minister Collier complied, clearing the way for wholesale destruction of rare and ancient Yindjibarndi heritage.
Yindjibarndi CEO, Michael Woodley, said “This is a Christmas from hell for us. It is a weak and morally wrong decision from Mr Collier. The Minister had a choice – to ensure Yindjibarndi people could properly record their sites before FMG wipes them off the face of the earth, and use this knowledge to make safe and fair decisions; or kick us in the guts and cheer on FMG’s destruction of our culture places before anyone has the chance to understand, care or know they ever existed. Mr Collier took the second option. So while FMG mining grinds on round the clock over Christmas, there will be no peace for Yindjibarndi.”
In the last two months FMG has repeatedly obstructed Yindjibarndi people from going onto their country to record their heritage and perform ceremonies. This is in breach of a condition of their mining lease that states access to and use of the land by Yindjibarndi people “is not to be restricted” by FMG, except in relation to any parts that are being used for mining operations, or for safety or security reasons relating to those operations.
FMG has fraudulently cited this “safety and security” stipulation by declaring areas YAC needs access to as ‘controlled areas’. FMG’s invocation of “safety and security” is false because no mining operations were being conducted on the land where the YAC sought to undertake surveys at the time of YAC’s visit, nor could there be for as long as the Minister’s section 18 conditions for comprehensive surveys remained unfulfilled.
The grave consequence of this obstruction for Yindjibarndi, and the advantage sought by FMG, is that after FMG mining operations have razed the country and destroyed physical evidence of Yindjibarndi heritage, there will be no certified and authentic documentary record upon which the prosecution of FMG can be based.
Mr Woodley said, “We are deeply angered that fundamental human rights standards spelled out in United Nations covenants are being blatantly violated in this state. The Minister’s decision steals from our people what is at the centre of our world, the cultural heritage that lies at the heart of our identity, our confidence, our right to exist as Yindjibarndi.”