Juukan Gorge – the thick plotens

Under cross-examination, Federal Environment Minister, Sussan Ley made two major admissions on ABC Radio National last Friday over the destruction of the two ancient Aboriginal rock shelters at Juukan Gorge. The shelters had been inhabited for 46,000 years, and now will become bits of iron and steel.

Collage – Alex Anstey

She admitted that her office had been in contact about the proposed destruction with Rio Tinto in the days before the blast; and the local Aboriginal groups, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama people and the Pinikura (PKKP) had also contacted her office, but their call was not returned by her busy office.

Ms Ley was insistent that it was already too late to do anything to prevent the destruction, because the charges had already been laid.

The notion of explosive charges that cannot be de-activated and removed is one on which it seems appropriate to get a more expert opinion than Ms Ley’s.  Like Rio’s CEO, Jean-Sébastien Jacques she must exit her role if the advice turns out to be different to what she insisted to Radio National.

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Lawyer, formerly senior federal public servant (CEO Constitutional Commission, CEO Law Reform Commission, Department of PM&C, Protective Security Review and first Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security; High Court Associate (1971) ; partner of major law firms. Awarded Premier's Award (2018) and Law Institute of Victoria's President's Award for pro bono work (2005).

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