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In the Alice Springs Magistrates Court today, the Arrernte Council pleaded guilty to two charges under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act, contravening five conditions of an Authority Certificate. Charges had been brought under Section 37 of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act. The Magistrate recorded convictions and fined the Arrernte Council $1000 on each charge. 

The CEO of AAPA, Mr Jeff Stead explained that the Certificate had been issued to allow works to occur on and near Annie Meyer Hill, an Aboriginal sacred site. 

“After consulting with local Aboriginal custodians, AAPA had issued an Authority Certificate which had conditions protecting the features of the sacred sites, while allowing works to occur for a pathway along the river,” Mr Stead said. 

“However, the conditions applying to works were not complied with by Arrernte Council. The works conducted by Arrernte Council on the path construction resulted in damage to the sacred site, and distress to the custodians responsible for the sites involved.” 

Traditional Aboriginal custodians, Mr Bob Stuart and Ms Doris Stuart were pleased that the Sacred Sites Act was able to provide for protection for sacred sites, and to also bring people and organisations to account when sacred sites were damaged. 

“The Sacred Sites Act is a strong law,” Mr Bob Stuart said. “Today’s convictions help traditional Aboriginal custodians to come to terms with the damage which had been caused to our sacred sites”. 

Ms Doris Stuart also commented “In a time of lots of development, Aboriginal sacred site custodians are willing to work with developers. But it is important that developers comply with the conditions for the protection of the sacred sites involved”.

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