The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
The Hon Warren Snowdon MP
Member for Lingiari
Senator Trish Crossin
Senator for the Northern Territory
Koongarra protected at last
14 March 2013
Legislation to protect Koongarra - now part of Kakadu National Park - passed Federal Parliament today.
The bill – the Completion of Kakadu National Park (Koongarra Project Area Repeal) Bill 2013 – was introduced by the Gillard Government last month to make it clear there will be no uranium mining at Koongarra.
Environment Minister, Tony Burke, said this final move completes a three year process by the Australian Government to protect the 1,288 hectare Koongarra area as part of Kakadu, at the request of key traditional owner Jeffrey Lee.
"Today we closed the book on uranium mining at Koongarra, fulfilling the longstanding wishes of traditional owner Jeffrey Lee and continuing Bob Hawke's proud legacy of protection for Kakadu," Mr Burke said.
"In 2010, the Government promised Mr Lee that we would incorporate Koongarra into Kakadu National Park, to ensure that the threat of mining was banished forever.
"It was Bob Hawke's Government in the 1980s that protected Coronation Hill and recognised that this spectacular natural and spiritual environment is no place for mining. But Koongarra was excluded from Kakadu's original boundaries.
"The exclusion of Koongarra has meant there has always been a hole in the heart of the boundaries of Kakadu.
"It's been an honour to help this great Australian achieve his dream and I salute Mr Lee for his quiet persistence and dedication to his country."
Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, said Kakadu and Koongarra include some of the most pristine natural landscapes in Australia.
"Kakadu is an important site in the Northern Territory, important for tourism, for the environment and for the culture of many Aboriginal people in the Top End.
"I know that Jeffrey Lee will be a proud man today, and I am proud to be part of the Labor Government which has secured the protection of Koongarra and of Kakadu itself."
Senator for the Northern Territory, Trish Crossin, said Mr Lee's resilience meant that ecological biodiversity, ancient rock galleries, and sacred burial sites would now be protected and returned to the bosom of Kakadu National Park.
"What was once touted "enormous uranium potential" is clearly dwarfed by the enormity of Mr Lee's human spirit, and his fight to protect this unique environment will be a reward to us all, and future generations to come."
Koongarra lies in the shadow of Nourlangie Rock, one of Kakadu's most popular visitor destinations, with rock art galleries that bear witness to the close relationship Aboriginal people have with their land and spiritual heritage.
On its other side, Koongarra faces Lightning Dreaming, home of Namarrgon or Lightning Man, the creation ancestor responsible for the dramatic electrical storms on the Arnhem plateau.