Eddie Mabo's lawyer vs. Howard's right hand man

Published:

The 46,000-year-old Aboriginal site that was blown up by Rio Tinto to expand their iron ore mine in the Pilbara and make billions of dollars in profit.
After blowing up 46,000 year old Aboriginal sites, who does Rio Tinto get to lead their review? The man who helped John Howard undermine our Native Title laws — Michael L'Estrange.

If we let them, Rio Tinto's sham "independent" review will set a terrible standard on how mining corporations deal with Aboriginal heritage for the whole country.1 We need some serious legal firepower to fight back — and with your help we could have it,

Greg McIntyre, S.C. was Eddie Mabo's lawyer throughout the landmark High Court case that led to the establishment of the Native Title Act in 1992. With his assistance for our legal team, we have an opportunity to help build a strong, new federal protection for cultural heritage.

It will be critical for the long work of getting a better law through Parliament. But we'll also use that new framework immediately to help set the public standard for the mining industry — effectively sidelining Rio Tinto's sham review.

Tens of thousands of GetUp members joined with Traditional Owners, First Nations communities and Lands Councils and together called for an inquiry into how hundreds of sites like the Juukan Gorge caves continue to be destroyed every year — and we got one!

Our public Senate Inquiry into Rio's shameful actions is happening now. It's the perfect platform — together with a legal legend — to launch a new public standard for the protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage.

Can you chip in $12 to help fund a team of lawyers — including Eddie Mabo's lawyer — for our campaign for new legal standards for protecting internationally significant Heritage?

Australia's heritage laws are broken, with a confusing patchwork of state and federal legislation that leads to more finger-pointing than action. We need to fix this.

But we need some serious legal expertise on Native Title and cultural heritage if we're to succeed. It doesn't get more serious than Greg McIntyre, who helped overturn the legal doctrine of Terra Nullius, an international convention that said no one was here prior to 1788 and has spent decades since working in this area of law.

Our legal team will need to research how all the different State and Federal Acts interact and draw up new legislation for a strong national act. This is work typically done by teams of lawyers working for the government. So to do it right, we're going to need significant funding.

It will take time and a lot of work. And we need to get the first phase done in time for the Public Inquiry into the law, so we can start showing Parliament the way forward.

Can you chip in to the campaign to create a new Federal Aboriginal Heritage Act?

If we're not careful, L'Estrange's sham review for Rio Tinto could give cover to BHP and others who want to destroy other sacred sites — including 40 that are currently under threat from mining corporations.2

But the media, big investors and Parliament are all watching Rio Tinto's next moves closely. That gives us a big opportunity to establish our own set of principles for the industry — if we can get people to sit up and take notice. Greg McIntyre's legal expertise will help us do just that.

Our First Nations Justice Team will work with McIntyre and our legal team to distill the new legal framework into clear public standards for heritage protection.

Then we'll make sure they get into the hands of the media, the Senate Inquiry and those big investors Rio cares so much about. And in true GetUp style, we'll create as much noise as possible to hold corporations like Rio Tinto to account.

We are the custodians of the oldest and most internationally significant heritage in the world and it's everyone's job to safeguard it — can you chip in to make this happen?

In solidarity

Larissa, Nicole and Amy for the GetUp team

All First Nations work at Getup is led by a team of campaigners from the Widjabul Wia-bul, Gooreng Gooreng and Garawa nations.


References
[1] 'How did the Wik 10-point plan outline our future?', NITV, 5 July 2018
[2] 'BHP to destroy at least 40 Aboriginal sites, up to 15,000 years old, to expand Pilbara mine', The Guardian, 11 June 2020
 
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