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The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
5 June 2006
Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for Kakadu National Park, announced today that the Government would be moving to incorporate 29 mining leases into the park, adding some 466 hectares to the World Heritage Area.
The move will ensure the effective rehabilitation of abandoned uranium sites in Kakadu's South Alligator River valley, following the Government's Budget announcement of $7.3 million over the next four years for this work.
“We are putting right a longstanding problem dating back to the previous Government,” Mr Hunt said.
“The Labor Government took the decision to incorporate valid mining leases into Stage 3 of the park without compensating the leaseholders – a decision subsequently overturned by the High Court.
“As a result these areas in the south of the park have been isolated islands surrounded by national park, but not managed as part of this World Heritage Area.
“This Government has reached a satisfactory agreement with the leaseholders. We will now incorporate the leases into Kakadu National Park and rehabilitate them to a standard befitting the park's World Heritage status.
“In the coming months, we will be preparing the necessary documents to submit to the Governor-General for proclamation of the areas as part of the park.”
The old uranium sites date back to the 1950s and 1960s, well before Kakadu became a national park and decades before it was globally recognised as a World Heritage Area for both its cultural and natural values.
They include Guratba, more commonly known as Coronation Hill, one of Northern Australia's most sacred sites.
“Coronation Hill and other sites have great cultural significance for the area's traditional Aboriginal owners, who have warmly welcomed the resolution of this longstanding issue,” Mr Hunt said.
“The incorporation of the leases and the funding for rehabilitation is a further demonstration of the Government's commitment to enhance the World Heritage values of this internationally acclaimed national park.”
Kristy McSweeney (Mr Hunt's office) 0415 740 722