FARA BULLETIN - July/August 2007

Dear friends,

Welcome to the first FARA Bulletin, which brings you news of the campaign to preserve Australia’s largest cultural monument, an Aboriginal sacred site, and the world’s largest and oldest outdoor rock art landscape at Murujuga (“the Burrup”).

July 2007 was FARA’s busiest month to date. It began with the Commonwealth’s National Heritage Listing of most of the Dampier Archipelago and ended with Woodside’s board announcing its decision to proceed with its Pluto LNG plant on the Burrup. FARA convened its first Convergence at the Burrup and its successful Artists for the Burrup art auction in Fremantle. July also saw the largest number of Stand Up for the Burrup vigils since our global campaign commenced in December 2006.

Rock up for Rock Art Concert

Saturday 25 August, Swan Hotel, North Fremantle, from 7pm.

Download flyer.


1. The good news – National Heritage Listing

On 3 July, Commonwealth Environment and Water Resources Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the National Heritage Listing for much of the Burrup Peninsula and all 42 islands of the Dampier Archipelago.

This was a great achievement, the product of decades of work by people including of Murujuga’s Elders and custodians, Australian Rock Art Research Association president Robert Bednarik, FARA spokesperson Robin Chapple.

Congratulations are due also to organisations including the National Trust of Western Australia and the World Monuments Fund. FARA may have contributed to a larger area being placed on the National Heritage Register than would have been the case without our global “Stand up of the Burrup” campaign.

While National Heritage Listing is a great achievement, the Minister did not include in this listing land already cleared for industry nor did he include the land sought for Woodside’s Pluto LNG plant (Sites A and B), areas recommended for inclusion by the Australian heritage Council in October 2006. As the Commonwealth Environment Department’s own 2007 research has shown, corrosive pollution from Pluto and the existing NW Shelf processing plant on the Burrup could cause long-term damage to the rock art.

FARA continues to work for a Woodside decision to relocate the Pluto plant.

Details of the National Heritage Listing are available here.

2. The bad news - Woodside board approves Pluto

The bad news came on 27 July when Woodside Petroleum Ltd. announced its anticipated decision to spend $11.2 billion to construct its giant Pluto Liquefied Natural Gas plant on the Burrup. In announcing the decision, Woodside CEO Donald Voelte said that the announcement was subject to environmental approvals, “which need to be obtained by September 2007 to enable the agreed schedule with customers to be satisfied”.

Woodside needs two sets of approvals before it can proceed. Approvals to remove Aboriginal rock art under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA) were granted by former Aboriginal Affairs Minister Sheila McHale in 2006 (Site A) and by current Minister Michelle Roberts in February 2007 (Site B). Environmental approvals are currently being finalised by the Environmental Protection Authority.

Woodside’s board seems to be relying heavily on timely heritage and environmental approvals in order to meet their investment and sales timetables.

In an unrelated development, former Woodside lobbyist Barry Carbon was appointed temporary head of the Environmental Planning Authority on a three-month contract commencing 1 August 2007. As The Australian put it:

“As EPA chairman from today, Mr Carbon will make recommendations about resources projects, possibly including the final environmental approval for Pluto, the project Woodside announced last Friday would proceed, conditional on achieving environmental approvals covering its undersea gas pipeline.”

See article here.

Several FARA members filed appeals in the EPA approval process, and a decision is expected within the next month. FARA is keeping this situation under active review.

3. The e-Card campaign – a message from (and to) Donald Voelte

FARA translates its national and international Stand Up for the Burrup actions into domestic political pressure by sending an e-Card with a photo from every Stand Up to more than 300 selected corporate executives, politicians, and media outlets.

Woodside CEO Donald Voelte has clearly been taking note. On Sunday 8 July he sent us an email:

"... I really like the different locations … I am keeping track how many places you have 'stood up' at that Nancy and I have visited … we like your stops in Italy and Peru the best … I have a long list of other really nice places if you run out of ideas (like St Johns in Malta) … regards … Don"

Glad to hear you like our work Donald. Sorry we can not say the same for yours.

Woodside has made itself globally infamous as a destroyer of what is believed to be the world’s largest and oldest cultural monument. It could easily take its project close to Onslow (located 150Kms down the coast) , as BHP and Apache plan to do, and make the same money without destroying the world’s heritage, and an Aboriginal sacred site.

A contemptuous attitude to Aboriginal peoples and the world’s cultural heritage does not reflect well on Donald Voelte or his company. It’s not too late for Woodside to do something important, and establish itself as a good corporate citizen.

FARA stands ready for discussions with Woodside and the State and Commonwealth governments to produce a solution that allows Woodside to meet its needs while conserving what is left of Murujuga. We hope Don is ready for that.

4. Murujuga/The Burrup Convergence, 15 – 20 July 2007

An enthusiastic group of over 60 people converged on the Burrup (Murujuga) in the week of 15 – 20 July. They came from across the country to learn more about what makes Murujuga so special and what threats the land is currently under.

The group took part in extensive rock art tours with expert archaeological and anthropological guides, and met with representatives of Woodside and the WA Department of Environment and Conservation.

Aboriginal custodians of the rock art greeted the group, strengthening links between FARA and Aboriginal people. A highlight of the Convergence was a meeting with local Aboriginal community members from the Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi peoples in Dampier. They spoke with passion about their connection to country and their fears for the future of places like Murujuga. Unfortunately we were not able to arrange meetings with other traditional owners, but we hope to have this opportunity in the near future.

FARA Life Member Phillip Adams gave support during the Convergence by interviewing FARA spokesperson Associate Professor Sylvia Hallam, Wong-goo-tt-oo Elder Wilfred Hicks, FARA Life Member and former WA Premier Dr Carmen Lawrence, and archaeologist Ken Mulvaney. The interviews went to air on Philip’s Late Light Live program on ABC National.

From the feedback received, the group found the experience to be valuable, inspiring, and timely.

Listen to this interview here (or here).

We hope to continue to build on the relationships formed during this trip so that we may work together to preserve the rock art and raise awareness of the need to defend indigenous cultural heritage across Australia.

Thanks to all involved, particularly Convergence coordinator Jeannine Gan, and Cross Country Charters for their fabulous crew.

For more information and images from the trip, click here.

5. Global Rally for the Burrup, Parliament House, Friday 13 July

A great turnout of over 100 people attended Parliament House on 13 July to send a message to the Carpenter Government- no more industry on the Burrup.

Nyungar Elder Uncle Ben Taylor opened the Rally with a welcome to country and a strong message of support from Nyungar people to the custodians of Murujuga. FARA’s Melbourne coordinator gave the event a national perspective. Dr. Carmen Lawrence MHR, ALP Member for Fremantle and former Premier, voiced her strong support from FARA’s campaign while acknowledging the past failures of government to recognise the world heritage values of Murujuga.

Cross-party support for Murujuga and opposition to Woodside’s Pluto plans was demonstrated by a speech from Greens Fremantle candidate and FARA legal advisor Stephen Walker, and by the presence in the Rally of former Opposition leader and State MP Colin Barnett.

Thanks to all for turning up and showing your support, especially David, Clare, Fern, and of Students of Sustainability. And a special thanks to Uncle Ben Taylor, who also gave the Welcome to Country at the global campaign launch last December 2006.

The Global Rally included international “Stand Up For The Burrup – Alan Carpenter” actions at the Statue of Liberty in New York and the perched village of Rocamadour in France, part of the UNESCO world heritage sites.

6. Standing up for the Burrup

FARA set its third target of 10 Australian and 10 International Stands up for the period 11 June - 20th of August 2007. Congratulations are due to our Stand Up coordinators Remi and to FARA’s network of international organisers. The target was exceeded by the end of July. Highlights included:

• Camberra Parliament House Stand Up where Senator Rachel Siewert, Mr Peter Andren MHR, and Hon Dr Carmen Lawrence MHR issued a joint media statement expressing their strong support for FARA's campaign.
• the Global Stand Up for the Burrup Rally on 12-14 July, with more than a hundred people attending a Rally at Parliament House, Perth, and supporting actions in New York (USA) and Rocamadour (France);
• strong participation from France with 7 Stand ups taking place at various locations, 3 Stand Ups in the USA and 2 Stand Ups in Italy, 1 in England, Spain, Brazil and Switzerland.
• growing Indigenous participation, with five Stand Ups during the Murujuga Convergence and the first Stand Up in Tasmania

To coordinate your own Stand Up, click here.

7. Artists for the Burrup art auction, Sunday 29 July

What a huge success! Over 80 West Australian artists, over 120 works, and 100 keen bidders raised over $30,000 for FARA. This by far and away exceeded our expectations and we are extremely grateful to all artists and members of the public for their support.

FARA would like to thank the City of Fremantle, Max Kay (auctioneer & candidate for Mayor of Perth), Dr. Carmen Lawrence MHR, and Peter Tagliafferi (Mayor of Fremantle). Congratulations to FARA member and art curator Judith Hugo, who coordinated the whole event, and to FARA’s art committee members: Chris Malcolm, Father Alfonsas from the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, Tina D’Orsogna, Rosalind Lawe-Davies, David Milroy, Kate Parker and David Wroth.

Most of all, thanks to the artists who donated part or their entire sale price to FARA’s campaign. There are too many to mention, but a special thanks to Sally Morgan, who was first in line with two donated paintings, and to her brother and FARA member David Milroy, both of whom are veterans of the campaign to protect the rock art of their country at Abydos-Woodstock. Thanks also to Julie Dowling and Norma MacDonald, whose families hail from that country, for their generous donations.

For those who could not make it to the auction, do not despair. We will soon be offering some beautiful artworks for sale via our website. Keep an eye out for our forthcoming on-line auction.

Some images of the art auction can be seen here.
Download press release.

8. Volunteers

FARA needs people to help with:

• writing letters, articles, media releases;
• research;
• extending networks ;
• website and database updates and maintenance;
• the events calendar (e.g. upcoming fairs, festivals, stall holder days – we need volunteers to attend these);
• admin tasks (meeting minutes, membership database, finances etc);
• translating the website into French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Portuguese.

Some may only take an hour or so, whilst others are longer-term projects. If you want to be active in this campaign, please get in contact with FARA at volunteer@friendsofaustralianrockart.com. FARA has a list of things that are ready to go.

Be active today, tomorrow will be too late!

9. Coming events

Rock up for Rock Art Concert, Saturday 25 August, Swan Hotel, North Fremantle, from 7pm.
FARA is excited to present some great musical talent at a fundraising event to be held at the Swan Basement, Swan Hotel, North Fremantle on Saturday 25 August.
Hear the beautiful songs of St Agnes and Phil Moncrieff. Get down and boogie to David Milroy’s band – The Hip Replacements, and the funky local band, Burgers of Beef.
Tickets on sale at the door. $12/$7 concession. Doors open at 7pm.
Download flyer.
Download press release.

FARA meetings
FARA meets every Tuesday at 5.30 p.m. at the Conservation Council of WA, 2 Delhi Street, West Perth. All members and supporters welcome.

Karragullen Expo, Roleystone, Saturday 8 Sep 2007
FARA will be present at this expo as part of its affiliation with the Conservation Council. Volunteers needed! Please contact volunteer@friendsofaustralianrockart.com or 0421 616 943 if interested.

Issue 1: 17 August 2007

Kind regards,
Jeannine, Judith, Mark, Remi
For Friends of Australian Rock Art

Friends of Australian Rock Art