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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

31 August 2005

Decision on emergency application at Cockburn Sound

An emergency declaration application for Cockburn Sound in Western Australia under section 9 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (ATSIHP Act) has been declined, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said today.

Senator Campbell’s decision followed applications by the Nyungah Circle of Elders for declarations under sections 9 and 10 of the Act. The applicants had maintained the proposed Perth Seawater Desalination Project would impact on the area’s Indigenous heritage.

The ATSIHP Act enables Indigenous people to apply to Senator Campbell for protection from injury or desecration of areas and objects that are of particular significance to Aboriginals in accordance with Aboriginal tradition. This provides for protection as a last resort when there is not adequate protection under State or Territory laws.

Senator Campbell said he had closely examined the application but was not satisfied that there was a serious and immediate threat and therefore could not make a declaration under section 9.

The Nyungah Circle of Elders also submitted an application under section 10 of the ATSIHP Act seeking long term protection of the area. This application is being processed.

“I have appointed John Waters, a barrister with extensive legal experience in native title and commercial law to report on the claims in the application,” Senator Campbell said.

“A notice informing the public of this matter appears in Australian Government Gazette and The West Australian newspaper today (31 August).”

Senator Campbell said that individuals with an interest in this matter should respond to the public notice and provide representations on it by 23 September to:

Mr John Waters
Level 6
Windeyer Chambers
225 Macquarie Street
Sydney NSW 2000.

The Minister said he would make his decision on the application when he had received and considered Mr Waters' report and the representations.

Media contact:
Renae Stoikos (02) 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia