Quarry would blast Aboriginal heritage, court told

Githabul elder Rob Williams arrested at Cedar Point in protest over a proposed basalt quarry on an allegedly significant cultural site.
Githabul elder Rob Williams arrested at Cedar Point in protest over a proposed basalt quarry on an allegedly significant cultural site. Dean Draper

THE future of a quarry works planned at Cedar Point near Kyogle is under a cloud amid claims it is on a significant Aboriginal ceremonial site.

Githabul elder Robert Williams took the case to the Land and Environment Court this week, arguing a quarry would harm Aboriginal objects at the site, and it should not go ahead without an Aboriginal heritage impact permit.

Environmental Defenders Office NSW chief executive officer Sue Higginson, who represented Mr Williams in the Sydney court, said it could take months for a judgment to be delivered.

"It was a very efficient hearing with Mr Williams and the archeological experts giving evidence before the court,” Ms Higginson said.

"The fundamental question is... (if there) is likely to be Aboriginal objects, protected under law, in the subsurface of the land.

"If so, what happens next?

"Mr Williams is saying, in the event the court makes that finding, the quarry proponents will need to undertake further assessments and apply for an Aboriginal heritage impact permit.”

Ms Higginson added the case would set an important precedent about protecting Aboriginal heritage sites.

"Our laws are far from adequate when it comes to protecting Aboriginal culture and heritage,” she said.

"But in this case there is strong evidence that the quarry site is an important place that was traditionally used by Aboriginal people.

"We need to ensure that the cultural values of the land are understood, and if there are in fact Aboriginal objects in the land that the law intends to protect, then those objects should be protected.”


Topics:  aboriginal heritage court edo environmental defenders office indigenous kyogle land and environment court quarry

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