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Juukan Gorge inquiry hears from key stakeholders

Issue date: Friday, 9 October 2020

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The parliamentary inquiry into the destruction of Indigenous heritage sites at Juukan Gorge will hold three public hearings next week where it will hear from witnesses including the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation (PKKP), Rio Tinto, and the Western Australian (WA) Government.

In its submission, the PKKP Aboriginal Corporation were critical that Rio Tinto had not protected the gorge, despite the PKKP, as well as anthropologists and archaeologists, providing Rio with information on the significance of the Juukan rockshelters.

Following their previous appearance at the inquiry, Rio Tinto has provided additional information to the Committee suggesting that it had held discussions with the PKKP prior to the destruction of the rockshelters and that the significance of the site was well understood by both sides at the time contracts were signed.

The WA Government has also provided additional information to the inquiry, particularly around features of its draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill and the role of its proposed Local Aboriginal Heritage Services.

Northern Australia Committee Chair Warren Entsch says the upcoming hearings will be a critical juncture in terms of the Committee’s work. “We are looking forward to hearing from the PKKP to get their perspective on how the tragedy unfolded and what impact it has had on their community”, Mr Entsch said.

“One of the key objectives of this inquiry is to look at what needs to change to ensure that Indigenous heritage is better protected in the future. Part of that is really digging into what went wrong at Rio and how it allowed this to happen. The other part is about strengthening legislative protection, and so we look forward to hearing what the WA Government is doing to ensure that we never have another situation like the destruction that occurred at the Juukan Gorge”, Mr Entsch added.

Public hearing details

Date: Monday, 12 October 2020
Time: 12:00pm to 3:00pm AEDT
Location: By videoconference/teleconference

Date: Tuesday 13 October 2020
Time: 11:00am to 4:00pm AEDT
Location: by videoconference/ teleconference

Date: Friday 16 October 2020
Time 12:00pm to 3:00pm AEDT
Location: by videoconference/teleconference

The hearings will be broadcast live at Programs are available on the Committee’s website.

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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