Help PMA grow | Petition forms | Site map | PMA main page
Canberra fails to get Jabiluka all-clear
25 November 2000
Claire Miller, The Age
The Federal Government failed last night to win the all-clear from the World Heritage Bureau for uranium mining at the Jabiluka enclave inside Kakadu National Park.
The bureau, the executive arm of the World Heritage Committee that last year considered whether Kakadu should be placed on the in-danger list, has instead referred the matter for debate at the committee's meeting here next week.
Despite intense pressure by Australia to quash the prospect of debate next week on whether uranium mining should go ahead, the committee will consider two critical reports from its environmental and scientific advisory bodies.
The independent international reports have recommended that more comprehensive environmental impact assessments be done before uranium mining begins at Jabiluka.
The reports by the International Council of Science and the World Conservation Union are the latest on the government's progress in meeting the World Heritage Committee's conditions to avoid Kakadu being placed on the in-danger list.
The government will also be asked to consider whether there is a need for a "new approach to consultation in relation to cultural management" with the traditional owners of Jabiluka, the Mirrar people.
The Mirrar and the government have been in deadlock over devising a cultural assessment and heritage management plan, which is another condition to prevent Kakadu's indigenous cultural values from being added to the World Heritage in-danger list.
The government wanted to involve the Jabiluka mine developer, Energy Resources Australia, in a cultural reference group to devise the plan. But the Mirrar people have said they will not take part in a process to help ERA facilitate its commercial objectives.
The Mirrar people's representative, Jacqui Katona, declined to comment on yesterday's developments after the World Heritage Bureau banned accredited international, green and indigenous observers from discussing the proceedings outside the forum.
The head of the Australian delegation, Roger Beale, the secretary of Environment Australia, said the Mirrar people had agreed to the wording of the recommendation to the committee for a new approach to cultural management.