Chinese owners ordered to rehabilitate Yakka Munga cattle station in the Kimberley

IS this the sort of foreign investment we need?

IS this the sort of corporate behaviour we suffer before something happens?

WHEN will safeguards be in place to ensure this sort of vandalism can’t happen?

IS this yet another case of a foreign investor ignoring the laws of Australia?

SHOULDN’t a fine automatically apply? Are we to believe it will be substantial, and payment pursued?

Chinese owners ordered to rehabilitate Yakka Munga cattle station in the Kimberley

ABC Kimberley By Claire Moodie


Image of land cleared on a remote cattle station in the Kimberley. The cleared land stretches towards the horizon.

PHOTO: Some of the land cleared at Yakka Munga cattle station, near Derby in the Kimberley (Supplied)

RELATED STORY: ‘Complete disregard for ecosystems’: Tougher penalties plea over Kimberley land clearing

RELATED STORY: Chinese company ordered to stop land clearing on Kimberley cattle station after Aboriginal blockade

RELATED STORY: Indigenous protesters take on Chinese company in land clearing blockade

RELATED STORY: Cattle company, native title holders do battle over land clearing at Yakka Munga Station

The West Australian Government has ordered the Chinese owners of Yakka Munga cattle station in the Kimberley to rehabilitate the site, after a land-clearing scandal.

Key points:

  • Traditional owners have welcomed a ruling forcing a Chinese-owned company to rehabilitate Yakka Munga station
  • Native title holders had blockaded the station in the Kimberley in a bid to stop land clearing
  • The company, Zenith Australia, could face a fine of $500,000 for clearing without a permit

Zenith Australia Investment Holding, a major land-holder in Australia, was ordered to stop work at Yakka Munga, near Derby, in June, after Aboriginal native title holders blockaded the station gates.

The Nyikina Mangala people were angry that they had not been consulted about the clearing of 120 hectares of native vegetation.

WA’s Pastoral Lands Board issued a default notice giving the company until the end of November to carry out remediation work.

VIDEO: Aerial view of land-clearing at Yakka Munga station in the Kimberley (ABC News)

No application for a permit

Pastoral Lands Board chairman Tim Shackleton said the company had been ordered to restore the entire 120 hectares to its natural state —a process that could take years.

He said that in the interim important steps had to be taken to prevent soil erosion, including refilling two excavated channels and building up to forty diversion barriers, to divert rain water from the site.

“The big issue here is that water during the wet season will flow heavily through that cleared area and scour out and remove the topsoil.

“What we know now is that there is an 11-metre fall between the north-east corner and the south-west corner of that site.

“And, unfortunately, you can imagine the result will be that water will move through there very quickly and damage the landscape even more.”

Mr Shackleton said Zenith had been trying to find ways to make their business viable and keep their cattle fed and watered.

“We totally get innovation and entrepreneurial activity within the pastoral industry,” he said.

“Unfortunately that land was cleared without notice to any of the government agencies involved and without an application for a permit.”

Traditional owners not consulted

man in red cap holding up sign, sitting on chair in middle of dirt road

PHOTO: Traditional owner Kenny Watson was among the protesters outside the gates of Yakka Munga. (ABC Kimberley: Claire Moodie )

Traditional owner Wayne Bergmann said the decision to order Zenith to fix the land was the right one.

“I take my hat off to the [government] department for actually following through and fulfilling its statutory mandate to ensure this land is put back they way it should be,” Mr Bergmann said.

However, Mr Bergmann added that he was disappointed that traditional owners had not been consulted over how the land should be rehabilitated.

“Yakka Munga forms part of a land area that has been undisturbed for thousands of years,” Mr Bergmann said.

“It’s our cultural and environmental values that have been disturbed.

“Certain trees, certain vegetation has been damaged and that needs to be re-created.

“It’s not a matter of just pushing the dirt back.

“There is still unfinished business.

“We’ve made a complaint under the Aboriginal Heritage Act and we’re unaware what stage that is at.”

Image of police officers speaking to protesters on the road to an isolated cattle station.

PHOTO: WA Police speaking with Nyikina Mangala protesters at their protest line. (ABC Kimberley: Claire Moodie)

Zenith Australia Investment Holding has been contacted for comment.

The company is also being investigated under the Environmental Protection Act and could face a fine of up to $500,000 for clearing without a permit.

It has argued that it didn’t need a permit because the work to build a stock watering channel, roads and fences was essential to the operation of its pastoral lease.