News

Curtis Island sacred sites row splits indigenous community

Curtis Island.
Curtis Island.

A SPLIT appears to be mounting within the local indigenous community over allegations LNG projects are damaging sacred sites on Curtis Island - a claim that has been dismissed by one LNG company as "baseless".

Gurang tribe spokeswoman Cherissma Blackman has made the claims, and said she spoke on behalf of the Port Curtis Coral Coast Native Title Claim group.

But she is not one of the group's six "applicants", or leaders.

Ms Blackman said ceremonial areas had been destroyed and fishing stocks depleted on Curtis Island and around Gladstone Harbour.

"It is part of our traditional cultural heritage," Ms Blackman said.

"All these animals and marine life that exist, they're part of our song lines and story lines.

"We have an obligation to our old people to uphold these song lines and story lines for future generations.

"These companies are totally ignorant about the environmental and cultural heritage damage they cause."

Gurang is one of four tribes launching a class action against Queensland Gas Company, Santos GLNG and Asia Pacific LNG for not upholding an indigenous land use agreement.

Ms Blackman, who lives in Yeppoon, said she was part of the preliminary stage class action claim.

She said promised compensation to the group from LNG companies was three years overdue.

Indigenous leader and elected group applicant Richard Johnson said process should be followed.

"As an individual, I disagree with Ms Blackman's statements," he said.

A statement from QGC said allegations that aboriginal cultural heritage sites had been destroyed by the Queensland Curtis LNG Project were baseless.

"QGC, as developer of the project, agreed cultural heritage management plans with the Port Curtis Coral Coast Aboriginal Community, the group officially recognised as representing the Gladstone region under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act," the statement read.

"This agreed plan was registered with the Queensland Government in April 2010, as required under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act.

"The community and QGC also agreed an indigenous land use agreement which was formally registered with the National Native Title Tribunal in January 2011.

"Under these agreements, indigenous representatives lead cultural heritage surveys before any ground is disturbed.

"They recorded no aboriginal cultural heritage sites in their surveys.

"Cultural heritage studies from 1993 to 1997 and in 2001 also found no evidence of culturally significant sites.

"The area on which LNG projects are being built on Curtis Island was used to run livestock from 1862 and to dump rubbish, the latter of which QGC and other companies have rehabilitated as part of their contribution to the Curtis Island Environmental Management Precinct, which covers 4590ha."

Topics:  curtis island, indigenous, lng, qgc, resources



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