Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation—BULLETIN
Wednesday 31 October 2012
No amount of corporate spin, bulldust or threats can save Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) from the continuing revelations of whistleblowers and freedom on information documents that show the under-handed tactics and bullying they ply for profit.
* Today Solicitor Kerry Savas, who spent more than a year representing the interests of the splinter Wirlu-murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, told The National Indigenous Times that the organisation was a “quickly formed front” to enable the Fortescue Metals Group to circumvent negotiations with the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation to secure mining rights on Yindjibarndi lands in the Pilbara worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He said FMG created the Wirlu-Murra because they would comply with Fortescue’s wishes for land access for a fraction of the compensation reasonably sought by YAC on behalf of the Yindjibarndi People for the damage that would be caused to their country, society and culture as a result of FMG’s Solomon Project. Mr Savas said Mr Gallagher told him, “Fortescue always gets its land access agreements signed one way or another, Fortescue’s tactic was to have one of their own people get established within the Wirlu-Murra group to win their hearts and minds In June 2011, Michael told me he had resigned from Fortescue around Christmas 2010 and just after the formation of the Wirlu-Murra group, and from that time he called himself a consultant for appearances sake so he could deny being a Fortescue employee and avoid Fortescue and himself being criticised for interfering and influencing Aboriginal groups. I asked him what possible benefit Fortescue could gain from having him covertly working in Roebourne with Wirlu-Murra. He replied plenty just look at how Fortescue has successfully obtained access agreements from Nyiyaparli and Palyku people in the northern Pilbara.”
* MINER TRIED TO FUDGE STUDY—ANTHROPOLOGIST: In October 2012 Brad Goode, an anthropologist engaged by Fortescue Metals Group, told The Australian newspaper that his “tenure with FMG was not continued” after he insisted on including references to the cultural significance of Kangeenarina Creek in Yindjibarndi country. This included accommodating the wishes of the Yindjibarndi people to have a 50m exclusion zone either side of the creek. Mr Goode said FMG’s heritage managers “tried to pressure me into altering the report” because it strongly amplified the wishes of the Yindjibarndi people to protect the creek, an area within FMG’s Firetail deposit. The changes would allow FMG to mine the area without having to formally apply for permission under the Aboriginal Heritage Act. “It was the worst, the most reprehensible act I have ever experienced as an anthropologist,” Mr Goode said.
* DOCUMENTS SHOW SACRED SITES DESTROYED: In September 2012 documents released by DIA under FOI legislation revealed FMG had destroyed Yindjibarndi sites despite their adamant public denials to the contrary, after employing heritage consultants who ‘declassified’ the sites.
* FMG FAILED TO IDENTIFY HUNDREDS OF SACRED SITES: In February 2012 documents released under FOI also revealed that when FMG applied for Section 18 Ministerial consent in 2011 to develop the ‘Firetail Priority Mining and Infrastructure Area’ and destroy 10 Yindjibarndi sacred sites in the process, FMG had failed to identify, and did not dispute the existence of, hundreds of other sacred sites in the same area.
* ARCHAEOLOGIST SUPPORTS CLAIMS FORTESCUE DAMAGING SACRED SITES: In November 2011, Sue Singleton, an archaeologist from Eureka Heritage History & Archaeology contracted by Fortescue Metals Group, confirmed she was forced to remove professional ethnographic assessments included in her report that FMG considered “prejudicial” to their business, upon threat of non-payment if she did not. “It soon became very clear that, if we did not comply, FMGL would withhold payment of our previous, outstanding and well overdue invoices on the basis that FMGL could not be expected to pay for a report that they could not use. At the time there were a number of invoices that were already overdue for payment, amounting, in Eureka’s case to $70,000.00,” Ms Singleton said.
The conduct of FMG is a blight on the history of relations between corporate and Aboriginal Australia. FMG have dragged the reputation of the resources industry—one that more responsible companies have struggled to salvage—back into the ditch of corporate greed.
The conduct of FMG has an especially disturbing twist because its actions at the coalface of its mining operations are totally at odds with the hyped up, spin-doctored image of ‘Mr Forrest the philanthropist’, which has been assiduously cultivated by so many FMG (tax deductible) public relations dollars.
Since the FMG attack by on the Yindjibarndi started in 2010, the countless expressions of support from people of all walks of life in Australia and across the globe, and especially from our Aboriginal brothers and sisters across the country, has brought great comfort to the Yindjibarndi People. The donations we have received from supporters who have given amounts from five to five thousand dollars, have moved our community and assisted our campaign. Thankyou for not turning your backs on the racist and discriminatory agenda FMG is prosecuting—for the benefit of its bottom line, at the expense of the cultural and material impoverishment of the Yindjibarndi People.
NEWS & INFORMATION ARCHIVE
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