11 September 2020
Removing Rio Tinto Mining Executives Won’t Solve Cultural Heritage Destruction issues
The removal of three senior executives from Rio Tinto over the Juukan Gorge caves destruction, will not solve the ongoing serious issues of cultural heritage destruction in Australia.
The First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance has welcomed the decision by Rio Tinto to remove CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques, iron ore division head Chris Salisbury, and corporate affairs chief Simone Niven in relation to the appalling blasting and destruction of the 46,000 year-old heritage site at Juukan Gorge.
However, the problems of cultural heritage destruction and inadequate heritage protection legislation are much bigger than these three individuals.
Although Rio Tinto is responsible for this egregious act, it could well have been caused by another mining company in Australia. Put simply – these executive removals are not enough.
Until there is industry-wide reform and robust legislative change, there will be other appalling situations like Juukan Gorge.
The Juukan Gorge destruction happened under West Australian legislation and the Federal Government failed to step in. They have allowed their legislation, supposedly to protect our heritage, to fall into disuse or to focus on regulating destruction, rather than protecting it.
First Nations cultural heritage is 65,000 years of living culture and history that must be protected for the future generations of all Australians.
Australians must refuse to absolve the mining industry and governments of their continuing failure to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage.
We urge people from all backgrounds and all sections of Australian society to support our call for greater protection of Australia’s cultural heritage.
The First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance is made up of every major Aboriginal Land Council and Native Title Group in Australia.
Media contact: Gary Highland on 0418 476 940