Opening up parts of Queensland’s Cape York to mining could devastate the famous Quinkan rock art, a traditional owner groups says.
Indigenous leaders from Laura, in southern Cape York, have called on the state government to ensure the sacred sites are protected under the Cape York Regional Plan.
The plan outlines future land use for the peninsula and maps out areas which can be developed and which parts are considered to be of high environmental value.
Traditional Owner Nash Snider says his people are concerned Laura will be opened up to mining which could damage the rock art that has existed for thousands of years.
“We need assurances that Quinkan and other rock art around Laura will be protected,” he said on Monday.
“If you take away the rock art you take away the life blood of the community,” another traditional owner and former Wujal Wujal mayor, Desmond Tayley, said.
Both men said residents were more interested in boosting eco-tourism, rather than mining.
Mr Snider and Mr Tayley along with about 20 other traditional owners met with Assistant Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs David Kempton in Laura on Monday to voice their concerns.
It was the first time someone from government had spoken to them about the plan, which was frustrating given submissions on the document close on Tuesday, they said.
Mr Kempton offered his assurances that their concerns would be taken to Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and that under a revised draft plan the rock art sites would likely be protected.
“I’m confident we can solve this,” Mr Kempton said at Monday’s meeting.
About 10 traditional owner groups have called for an extension to the submissions deadline, but Mr Seeney has said extensive consultation has taken place and the deadline won’t be pushed back.
The state government has said the plan will boost development on Cape York bringing more jobs and cash to the region, while green groups have argued the plan opens up vast areas to development.