In December last year, Labor senator Pat Dodson, a member of the joint parliamentary committee that also looked into the issue, said the destruction of the caves was one of the worst avoidable disasters “that has ever happened in our country”.
Professor Clarke said the pay rise would rub salt into the wound for Indigenous Australians.
“Really, having a board member doing the inquiry wasn’t appropriate at all,” he said.
“It should have been an independent, external person who did this inquiry.
He said the inquiry was done internally so the miner could “manage the outcome”.
Independent mining analyst Mark Pervan said no director should have received a single extra cent following the debacle.
“They realised the damage had been done,” Mr Pervan said.
“There is clearly an opportunity here to show they are serious about amending that and I think that could have been done through a zero-remuneration adjustment or putting the hard work in and hoping they can restore the reputation and trust with the community.”
Marcia Langton refused to conduct inquiry
The annual report also shows the CEO, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, also received a pay 20 per cent rise, taking home $12.85 million last year – under the British method of calculating executive pay.
That is despite the Rio Tinto board labelling the CEO “partially responsible” for the incident in August last year.
Iman country woman Marcia Langton is the foundation chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne.
She was asked to help Mr L’Estrange conduct the inquiry but refused when, she said, it was obviously not going to be independent.
“I interrogated them on a number of critical questions and I came to the conclusion that they had no intention of doing an independent review, nor allowing me to see all the files,” she said.
“And so it became pretty evident to me that what they wanted me to do was a clean-up job for them and I said, ‘No I’m not going to participate in anything like that,’ and so they’ve moved onto somebody else,” she said.
In response to several questions from PM about the appropriateness of executive financial rewards during this period, Rio Tinto declined to be quoted.
The miner referred PM to explanatory notes in the annual report.
On whether or not the inquiry into Juukan Gorge was independent when the director who led the inquiry owned shares, Rio Tinto said it encouraged directors to own shares in the company.