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Juukan Gorge inquiry considers legal issues

Issue date: Thursday, 1 October 2020

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The parliamentary inquiry into the destruction of Indigenous heritage sites at Juukan Gorge will tomorrow hear from the Law Council of Australia and the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC), an eclectic mix of stakeholders with a strong interest in Native Title and Indigenous heritage laws.

In its submission, the Law Council of Australia highlighted the ‘wide structural disconnect existing across the current legislative framework’, noting that cultural heritage laws ‘have failed to incorporate recognition of the rights of First Nations peoples to land and waters’. The Law Council called for First Nations peoples to have ‘the leading voice in managing their own cultural heritage’.

AMEC argued that ‘the cultural heritage laws in Australia could be improved by improving certainty and transparency as well as reducing the costliness of their operation’. It believed that ‘increasing the certainty and transparency of where cultural and historically significant sites are located would improve the decisions made by investors, companies, and the Government’.

Northern Australia Committee Chair Warren Entsch says that the evidence received to date by the Committee highlights the need for legislative reform.

‘Protecting Indigenous heritage should be a priority of all governments,’ Mr Entsch said. ‘The best way to achieve certainty for all stakeholders is to ensure adequate legal protections for Indigenous heritage are in place.’

Programs are available on the Committee’s website.

Public hearing details

Date: Friday, 2 October 2020
Time: 11:00am to 1:00pm AEST
Location: By teleconference

The hearings will be broadcast live at

Further details of the inquiry, including terms of reference, can be found on the Committee’s website.

Media inquiries

Hon Warren Entsch MP, Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia
07 4051 2220

For background information

Committee Secretariat
02 6277 4162

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