source : www.skynews.com.au
Every landowner in the country should take action if activists succeed in stopping the development of 12,000 homes over a newly discovered Aboriginal cemetery, writes Caleb Bond.
Sky News presenter James Morrow says there are calls to strengthen the ‘cultural police’ in Victoria. Mr Morrow says the culture police would have “the right to enter people’s private property”, including farms and homes in Victoria, “without the owner’s consent”. “To check if there have been any violations of indigenous cultural sites, heritage or land or anything like that,” Morrow said. “It’s Orwellian, and this is where it’s going. “It’s all a thread of statism and a thread of control and a thread of anti-freedom. “A thread of cracking down on ordinary Australians who just want to live their lives and tell them how to live.”
That’s what happened in South Australia – and it could have major implications for all future developments in the rest of the country.
Riverlea is a $3 billion development by prominent developer Lang Walker.
Once completed, it will have 12,000 homes and 40,000 inhabitants over the next twenty years.
It took Mr Walker sixteen years to get the project up and running.
But in July they found bones, which were reported to police, and the Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation was subsequently called in to monitor the site while the bones were examined.
The remains of at least 29 people have now been found.
The state government has therefore halted the development to allow further research.
Kaurna elders have called for a halt to earthworks and questioned why anyone would want to live in a cemetery, while indigenous activist and actress Natasha Wanganeen said excavators should not be allowed to dig near where the remains were found .
Protesters at the Riverlea site last month called for a complete halt to the development.
If you were planning to build a residential area on top of a marked, existing cemetery that we can see on a map and that is managed by a cemetery authority, then yes, you would have a fight.
It is generally not good practice to build in places we think are cemeteries.
But the problem here is that it was not known to be a cemetery.
It was an accidental discovery and the developers did the right thing in alerting the police.
If we want to say that if your land turns out to be a cemetery, you can no longer develop it or do anything with it, then why would anyone take the risk of buying land and investing money in development?
It would essentially make your investment a dead asset, pardon the pun. Why bother?
And we already have enough pressure on housing as it is now.
But it is also a fact that many places in Australia were built on known non-Aboriginal burial sites.
For example, the Old Sydney Burial Ground was founded in 1792.
Today, Sydney Town Hall and parts of the Town Hall railway station are on that land.
In the 1970s – and even more recently – they continued to find graves there.
The Sydney City Council website states that “graves were discovered north of Sydney Town Hall in 2003 during construction work for a new forecourt”.
“Then in September 2007, as new construction work was about to begin, evidence of grave sites was again uncovered beneath the Lower Town Hall,” the website said.
“First site-specific archaeological investigations indicate the remains of at least 50 simple graves.”
That’s why they didn’t stop work.
The Central Station is also built on an old cemetery.
The remains were exhumed and sent elsewhere, as they should be. But the development didn’t stop – and then they knew these were cemeteries.
We saw what happened in Western Australia with Aboriginal cultural heritage laws.
If you owned land anything larger than a quarter of an acre, for a short time you had to get special approval from some Aboriginal heritage group to even drive a fence post into the ground, build a mailbox or plant a tree. .
That’s exactly what a bunch of volunteers discovered when they tried to plant trees near the Canning River. A local Aboriginal business demanded $2.5 million to gain approval.
Funnily enough, those laws didn’t last long.
It would have halted development in Western Australia. It would have taken the power away from landowners and put it in the hands of faceless Aboriginal-run companies, who could essentially blackmail you into paying them to use your own land.
If they knew this was a cemetery, someone would have said something about it long before the excavators moved it.
If the activists win this battle and Lang Walker is prevented from further developing that land, then every landowner in the country should take action.
What happens if you knock down your house to divide the land and come across bones while building a basement? The precedent has then been set: you might as well say goodbye to the value of your property.
If it is a known Aboriginal cemetery, do not touch it. That is completely understandable.
But development and progress cannot be held hostage to Aboriginal history that even Aboriginal people didn’t seem to know existed.
Caleb Bond is a columnist at SkyNews.com.au and co-host of The Late Debate at 10pm Monday to Thursday on Sky News Australia.
source : www.skynews.com.au