New nationals standards to be set for Aboriginal heritage: Australia

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An investigation investigating the demolition of historic rock shelters for an iron ore mine concluded on Monday that Australia should establish a new national legislative framework to preserve Aboriginal cultural assets (Oct 18). According to the study, traditional Aboriginal owners should decide on development proposals that may impact their history. They should have the authority to refuse assent and take legal action to enforce the proposed new legislation.
The suggestions came after a 16-month parliamentary investigation into Rio Tinto Ltd’s lawful destruction of sites in Western Australia’s Juukan Gorge that revealed evidence of human habitation dating back 46,000 years to the last Ice Age.
Widespread outrage over the caverns’ destruction focused attention on industry standards, costing Rio’s then-chief executive and two other top executives their careers and prompting Chairman Simon Thompson to announce his retirement in 2022.
The committee, which recommended in December that Rio pay reparations to traditional owners, released suggestions on Monday for reforming a hodgepodge of state and federal laws with varying definitions and methods, all of which is deemed to have “severe flaws.”
According to the study, “it became clear to the Committee that legislation intended to safeguard cultural heritage had, in many circumstances, actually led to harm and loss.”
Rio Tinto issued a statement praising the findings.
The firm stated, “We are focused on increasing our interaction with Indigenous Peoples and our host communities to better understand their priorities and concerns, minimise our impacts, and appropriately maintain Indigenous cultural heritage.”
Rio has assessed over 2,200 heritage sites as part of its current mine plans and has increased employees supervising heritage procedures by 20% to 300 individuals from last year.

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