Publish Date: 27th June 2011
Kakadu Traditional Owners today witnessed and welcomed the decision by the UNESCO
World Heritage Committee to include Koongarra within the Kakadu World Heritage Area.
Representatives of the Mirarr attended the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee to
support moves by the Senior Traditional Owner of the neighbouring Djok clan, Jeffrey Lee, to
permanently protect the Koongarra region from the threat of uranium mining.
Mr Lee has consistently opposed uranium mining on his country and has travelled to Paris to
personally support and witness the boundary change as a step towards the inclusion of his
land into Kakadu.
This 1200 hectare region is entirely within the Djok Traditional estate and includes the
Koongarra uranium deposit which has never been mined. High level Australian and
international assessment teams have opposed any mining plans and recommended increased
protection for the unique region.
In 2010 both major Australian political parties committed to making Koongarra part of the
surrounding national park.
Today the World Heritage Committee voted to modify the boundaries of the Kakadu National
Park World Heritage Area to include the previously excluded Koongarra area.
Mirarr people have a company clan relationship with the Djok and Mr Lee requested their
support on his mission. Mirarr Traditional Owner Mr Stewart Gangali and the executive officer
of the Gundjeihmi Corporation, Justin O’Brien, are in Paris with Mr Lee.
“Jeffrey speaks for his country and we support him. He has always said no to mining at
Koongarra. He wants to see that country protected as a part of Kakadu and we absolutely
support him in that,” Mr O’Brien said today.
“Kakadu is Aboriginal land, Australia’s largest National Park and one of the world’s valued
places. This decision is a key step towards seeing the bipartisan election promise of
Koongarra's protection realised. The Mirarr are actively committed to supporting Mr Lee in
speaking for his country,” Mr O’Brien concluded.