Monday, January 22, 2007

ACTION: Stand Up for the Burrup this week!

Protest: The needless desecration of sacred art

The Burrup site, containing hundreds of thousands of rock carvings, said to date back thousands of years is under destruction.

From 12:30pm on Monday January 22 and Thursday 25, 2007 vigils will take place at the headquarters of Woodside in Perth to demonstrate against the relocation of rock art and destruction of the heritage values of the Burrup Peninsula.

Imagine a cultural icon six times older than the Pyramids, eight times older than Stonehenge. Imagine probably the earliest surviving rock carvings on this planet. Most Australians have never even heard of these rock carvings on the Burrup Peninsula, and have no idea this silent world treasure is being needlessly pulled apart and destroyed from blind industrial development...

The National Trust of Australia says the Burrup site, in north-west Australia, contains one of the world's largest and most important collections of petroglyphs - ancient rock carvings - dating back as far as the last ice age. It says the collection of standing stones may be the largest in the world.

In December 2006, Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell turned down an application for emergency heritage listing of the Burrup Peninsula rock art site, which is under threat from a major gas installation. Senator Campbell said that he did not believe the threat was sufficient to warrant emergency listing.

The application was made by Australian Greens senator Rachel Siewert, Labor MP Carmen Lawrence and independent MP Peter Andren. Senator Campbell said there were believed to be up to one million pieces of rock art in the Dampier Archipelago, including in the Burrup area. As a result of Campbell's rejection, Woodside will start initial preparation works at Site A, including engineering works and fencing.

Woodside announced last week that it has commenced work to remove ancient rock art from the Burrup. There has been opposition to its location because the company will have to move 150 ancient Aboriginal rock engravings to make way for the development. The plant is due to be operational by 2010.

"Woodside is needlessly vandalising the priceless heritage values of the Burrup when perfectly acceptable industrial land is just a few kilometres up the road," Friends of Australian Rock Art spokesperson Dr Sylvia Hallam said this morning. "The Government has failed to stop the desecration of Burrup Peninsula rock art, meaning it is up to the community to take their concerns directly to Woodside."

"This is a company that should seriously consider how further destruction on the Burrup will affect its' reputation. These vigils will be the first of many opportunities for us to talk directly to people about how Woodside's activities are ruining the ice age heritage of the Burrup."

Dr Hallam said that there are other sites nearby that should be used for Woodside's proposed Pluto LNG facility.

Corner of St Georges Terrace and Milligan Street, Perth
Vigil 1 - Monday 22 January 2007, 12:30 - 1:30
Vigil 2 - Thursday 25 January 2007, 12:30 - 1:30
Contact: Dr Sylvia Hallam 9386 1366 or 0402 664 503

On the 9 January 2007 Woodside announced that work had started on the initial preparation phase of Woodside's Pluto project on the Burrup Peninsula. Woodside said site preparation work for LNG storage tanks will include fencing, road access and relocating cultural heritage material over the first half of 2007.

WA Senator Rachel Siewert says it's not too late to change the location. The Woodside project has drawn criticism because the company plans to move 165 Aboriginal rock carvings. A Woodside spokeswoman said the rock art relocation would start within two or three weeks, depending on the progress of other work.

Australian Greens federal Senator Rachel Siewert said the federal government and Woodside would be remembered as vandals for allowing the destruction of rock art. She said it was not too late to change the location of the plant to an already cleared adjacent site.

"Woodside have not even made the final decision to commit to the project... yet they are still proceeding with initial site works," Senator Siewert said in a statement," said Senator Siewert. "We need to ask why they are rushing to clear the site now, is it simply because in the New Year period they think people won't be paying attention?"

"This Government and Woodside will go down in the history books as vandals for allowing the destruction of rock art on the Burrup", said Senator Rachel Siewert. "I can not believe that in this day and age our Governments think it is acceptable to destroy ancient rock art to allow development," said Senator Siewert.

"It is not too late to relocate the development onto already cleared land next-door to the current site. Surely Woodside can negotiate with its joint venture partners to protect this unique rock art?" said the Senator. "Woodside have not even made the final decision to commit to the project, and reportedly will not be making this decision until later in the year - yet they are still proceeding with initial site works," said Senator Siewert. "I simply cannot understand why the Federal Government is not requiring Woodside to co-locate the plant just a couple of hundred metres up the road - thereby enabling the development to proceed and saving the rock art. Our failure to protect our unique Indigenous heritage is an international shame," she said.

Woodside is Australia's largest publicly traded oil and gas exploration and production company with a market capitalisation of more than A$25 billion

Destruction of rock art to commence on the Burrup - Greens
Vandalism/Destruction of Burrup rock art to begin - International Shame: Perth.indymedia
Protest Woodside's destruction of The Burrup. Perth.indymedia
Burrup tragedy: Campbell sends in the bulldozers. Perth.indymedia
Work starts on Woodside plant on Burrup - SMH January 8, 2007
Campbell rejects listing for Burrup site - The West December 22, 2006
GetUp Campaign to save the Burrup
Woodside reports record revenues. Perth.indymedia
Would the Egyptians knock down the Pyramids? Adelaide.indymedia

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