BHP supports tougher property sanctions

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Mining company BHP has called on the South Australian government to impose tougher penalties on companies that illegally damage indigenous heritage sites and to allow traditional owners to appeal heritage decisions.

In a submission to the state’s aboriginal heritage inquiry, the mining giant said the current sanctions are “not proportionate to the potential harm” caused by legislative violations, are “not substantial by legislative standards. modern “and do not reflect the community’s expectations for cultural heritage. protections.

The miner suggested the maximum fine of $ 50,000 under the current state regime 1988 Aboriginal Heritage Act (SA) could increase to $ 10 million, as proposed in Western Australia’s Heritage Bill, which was released for public comment last year.

“BHP supports a substantial increase in fines and penalties under the 1988 Act to reflect public concerns and act as a deterrent against illegal damage, and to reflect the unique nature of certain cultural heritage sites that are protected by the 1988 Act ”, the submission mentioned.

BHP, which currently operates the Olympic Dam mine in Kokatha, Barngarla and Kuyani Country, also suggested that traditional owners have the right to appeal decisions made under the law.

Currently, the SA Heritage Act does not provide any means for traditional owners to appeal decisions of the Minister; they must take the matter to court if they object to the decision.

“The lack of any prescribed right of appeal means that traditional owners and land users are limited to judicial review or common law remedies to challenge a decision,” the communication said.

“BHP believes the 1988 law could be improved by providing access to merit review for both traditional owners and land users. “

BHP also highlighted the State Administrative Court’s suggested review of the Washington state bill as a potential solution.

“A similar right of review could be granted to ministerial decisions to grant or deny … authorizations … or to refuse to approve local heritage agreements with traditional owners,” the submission reads.

Led by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Aboriginal Lands, the South Australian government’s investigation into Aboriginal heritage began after Rio Tinto deliberately blew up Juukan Gorge in Western Australia’s Pilbara region last year.

The event sparked a massive public backlash and prompted the WA government to reconsider its Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WASHINGTON). The bill is expected to be presented to the WA Parliament later this year.

By Hannah Cross


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