Media release

BHP resolution: moratorium on desecration of Indigenous sites and cease gag orders on traditional owners

Sydney, 13 August, 2020: The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) has filed a Shareholder Resolution to BHP Group Ltd (ASX:BHP), requesting the company:

  • Adopt a moratorium on undertaking activities which would disturb, destroy or desecrate cultural heritage sites in Australia until relevant laws are strengthened;
  • Remove gag orders on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners so they can speak publicly about cultural heritage concerns on their land; and
  • Be forthright and disclose lobbying by its industry associations on cultural heritage issues.

This resolution enjoys the support of the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance, a coalition of more than 20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and leaders from across Australia.

Commenting on the resolution, Brynn O’Brien, Executive Director at ACCR said:

“Investors simply can’t stand by and allow another Juukan Gorge disaster to take place. Investors in BHP have the opportunity to ensure the company takes a cautious, best practice approach in dealing with Indigenous cultural heritage by issuing a moratorium on any further destruction until laws are strengthened.

“Investors should be concerned that BHP does not as a matter of process make public disclosures about cultural heritage sites it plans to disturb.

“And while BHP committed to not undertake activities which would disturb 40 cultural heritage sites in the Pilbara ‘without further extensive consultation’ with Aboriginal Traditional Owners, it’s been reported that the company applied for ministerial consent to do so.

“Decisions about cultural heritage should be based on principles, not on a PR response to a crisis.

“As investors, we believe it’s necessary that this shareholder resolution receives strong support - or is proactively adopted by BHP’s Board - because there is far too much at stake to allow any further destruction of Indigenous cultural sites.”


About ACCR

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) is a not-for-profit, philanthropically-funded research organisation, based in Australia. ACCR monitors the environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices and performance of Australian-listed companies, including climate change, human rights, and labour rights. We undertake research and highlight emerging areas of business risk through private and public engagement.

About First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance

The First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance is made up of every major Aboriginal Land Council and Native Title body in Australia and was formed to push for the reform of Australia’s archaic Aboriginal heritage laws and practices.

The Alliance includes the Cape York, Central, New South Wales, Northern and Kimberley Land Councils, the National Native Title Council, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and leading academic, Professor Marcia Langton.

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