Burrup listing in election spotlight
The coexistence of industry, history, culture and nature on the Burrup is set to become an election flashpoint yet again as calls strengthen to protect the sacred rock art on the peninsula.
A campaign has been running for more than a decade to list the peninsula because of the presence of tens of thousands of indigenous rock carvings, some of which are believed to be more than 50,000 years old.
Greens Member for Mining and Pastoral Robin Chapple said a recent decision by the City of Karratha to support a listing was welcome news.
“I’ve been fighting to get World Heritage listing for the Burrup Peninsula for the better part of 20 years and it’s fantastic to see the council has thrown its weight behind protecting this incredible place,” he said.
“The Burrup has rock art as old as 30,000 years, and some of the earliest known depictions of the human face.
“It is the world’s largest and oldest living gallery and surely worthy of such protection.”
“The WA Greens will continue to push for World Heritage Listing for the Burrup after March 11 and for any proposed development in the next term of Government to be moved off the peninsula for the long-term protection of the rock art.” Liberal candidate for the Pilbara Mark Alchin said he was yet to be convinced about the need to press ahead with a listing, but he would engage with stakeholders before taking a formal position.
“My concern is that by World Heritage-listing something you have another tier of Government you have to consult with to do things, even from a conservation point of view,” he said. “If it can be proven that by World Heritage-listing the area the cost benefit is there, then obviously it would make sense, but you really have to look at the detail first of what benefit it will actually provide.
“I do think it is important we prioritise and conserve these assets because if we think about in 100 years time when all the iron ore is gone, what do we have to sell in the Pilbara? Our landscape and our culture.”
Mr Alchin said he was confident there were strong environmental standards in place for industry on the Burrup.
On a visit to the peninsula last year, WA Premier Colin Barnett said while there was no timeframe in mind, he would like to see the Burrup World Heritagelisted.
Labor candidate Kevin Michel said he saw no reason the Burrup could not be World Heritage in the near future.
“We will try our very best to make sure the Aboriginal people are supported in what they want,” he said.
WA Nationals Leader and Pilbara MLA Brendon Grylls has supported the push to World Heritage-list the Burrup at several public events in the past year.
At an event in Dampier, Mr Grylls told the crowd a heritage listing would be a boon for environmental and indigenous tourism in the region.
Rock art near King Bay on the Burrup Peninsula.