“With traditional owners from Cape York looking on, the old parties today opposed my motion in the Senate to protect the Quinkan rock art from mining.
“The full extent of the rock art in Cape York is still being explored, with traditional owners using GPS mapping to discover new sites.
“Yet the area is open for mining exploration and recently Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting applied to mine areas including known rock art sites.
“Hancock Prospecting has said it will avoid rock art sites but there’s no way this can be guaranteed with new sites still being discovered.
“It would be an absolute tragedy for pieces of this ancient heritage, some 30 000 years old, to be destroyed by mining before it is even discovered by traditional owners.
“Are we really going to leave it up to mining companies to decide whether to destroy cultural heritage? It’s government’s role to preserve this invaluable heritage.
“Premier Newman and federal Environment Minister Burke must refuse any mining exploration in the Quinkan rock art galleries, especially before Cape York is declared a World Heritage Area,” Senator Waters said.