Juukan Gorge-investing in social responsibility

Following its visit to Juukan Gorge, the inquiry into the destruction of Indigenous heritage sites at Juukan Gorge will meet with superannuation fund HESTA and resources giant Fortescue—two stakeholders who highlight the importance of responsible engagement between the corporate sector and Traditional Owners.

Northern Australia Committee Chair Warren Entsch says corporate Australia can no longer ignore the link between its social licence to operate and responsible engagement with Indigenous Australia.

‘Rio Tinto has paid a high price in reputation for its failure at Juukan Gorge,’ Mr Entsch said.

‘Other resource companies need to take note: governments, investors and the community will no longer tolerate such tragedies.’

In its submission, superannuation fund HESTA emphasised the link between corporate responsibility and investment certainty. HESTA stated:

We believe our investee companies should adopt and promote a culture which asks whether companies ‘should’ do something rather than whether they ‘can’ do something. We acknowledge that the law can sometimes lag community expectations and we expect companies to recognise this and make appropriate decisions to safeguard and enhance the value of the company over the long term.

Fortescue Metals Group, one of the leading mining companies in the Pilbara, noted that:

Aboriginal people have occupied the Pilbara region for at least 50,000 years. The land is replete with evidence of this occupation in the form of tangible and intangible Aboriginal cultural heritage. Fortescue recognises that we are privileged to operate in this environment and we take our legal and ethical responsibilities in this regard extremely seriously.

Programs for the public hearing are available on the Committee’s website.

Public hearing details

Date: Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Time: 2:00pm to 4:00pm AEDT

Location: by video/teleconference

The hearings will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

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