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Australia owes traditional owners for their successful campaign to protect Watarrka

Posted: Wed, November 25, 2015

The CLC is delighted for the traditional owners of Watarrka (Kings Canyon) National Park, whose three year campaign to save the national icon from mining ended with a well-deserved victory yesterday evening.

"Australia owes you a big debt of gratitude for allowing future generations to continue to enjoy your beautiful country," CLC Director David Ross told them.

Mr Ross said the CLC supported the custodians' decision to engage the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) to make yesterday's emergency application under federal heritage laws.

The application was their last ditch attempt to protect their country, after numerous appeals to the NT government had been ignored. 

“The EDO should be thanked for their efforts to help them to protect this special place,” Mr Ross said.

In one of those great Northern Territory co-incidences, the NT Mining Minister chose the day they took their battle against Palatine Energy's oil and gas mining application to Canberra to finally reject the application.

"After years of unsuccessful advocacy on behalf of the traditional owners we were as surprised at the announcement as the company and, evidently, the NT Chief Minister himself," said Mr Ross.

"Only two days ago, when Mr Giles could have responded to our call to explain what his new oil and gas mining policy meant for Watarrka, he instead made false claims to the ABC of divisions among the traditional owner group."

Mr Ross said the CLC would enthusiastically participate in the consultations about the new policy and called on the government to finalise the policy before the next election.

"On face value it looks like a big step in the right direction, but as we all know, the devil is in the detail," he said.

"Clearly all of our national parks should be off limits for exploration and mining, and we look forward to having that confirmed as soon as possible.

25 November 2015

Contact: Emma Sleath 0488 984 885, emma.sleath@clc.org.au