A successful motion and order for papers by Greens MP David Shoebridge passed in the NSW Upper House today gives hope that real lessons will be learned from the tragic loss of Aboriginal heritage caused by the construction of Australia’s largest KFC restaurant in Newcastle.
The motion and call for papers are printed below:
“The NSW Upper House today acknowledged the terrible loss of Aboriginal heritage caused by the construction of a fast-food restaurant in Newcastle,” Mr Shoebridge said.
“The motion passed unanimously by the NSW Upper House recognises the urgent need to take action on Aboriginal heritage in NSW.
“There is something extremely wrong with a system which allows an Aboriginal heritage site to be destroyed before even investigating what the site contains.
“The successful order for papers relating to the development will hopefully shed light on the failures in the process which led to this loss of unique Aboriginal heritage.
“While it is too late to turn back the clock and save six millennia of Australia’s Aboriginal heritage at this site in Newcastle, we have a responsibility to ensure that similar tragedies are avoided in the future.
“We have a responsibility to preserve our Aboriginal and European heritage in NSW for future generations,” Mr Shoebridge said.
MOTION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY IN THE NSW UPPER HO– USE
LOSS OF UNIQUE ABORIGINAL HERITAGE IN NEWCASTLE WEST
That this House notes that:
- Approximately one year ago a fast food restaurant costing $2.5 million was built in Hunter Street, Newcastle West, over one of the most significant Aboriginal heritage sites in New South Wales.
- The Excavation Report for this site was not released until one month ago, almost a year after the restaurant was built, thus making its assessment of the heritage impact of the development redundant.
- The Excavation Report found the site to be of “high to exceptional cultural and scientific significance” and should have been available before the restaurant was built so as to justify retention of the site as a state significant site of Aboriginal cultural heritage.
- The site contained a significant number of artefacts, including ancient Aboriginal stone tools with unique stonework and campsite remains, which are over 6,000 years old, evidence of some of the earliest human settlement in the Newcastle area.
- The site also included a large array of colonial-era artefacts.
- Under the previous government Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permits, effectively permits to destroy Aboriginal heritage sites, were given at the rate of approximately 5 per week.
- Members of the local Awabakal people have stated that the final excavation report “highlighted the lack of rigour in the state government’s assessment of Aboriginal heritage”.
- No acceptable plan has been made for the retention and display of these unique artefacts in the local region.
That this House:
- Recognises the irreplaceable nature of this state’s Aboriginal heritage and the value of Aboriginal artefacts, and acknowledges the tragic loss of Aboriginal heritage that this development has created.
- Calls on the government to review the failings in the current Aboriginal heritage protection regime and consider measures to ensure that a similar tragedy does not occur in the future.
ORDER FOR PAPERS PASSED UNANIMOUSLY IN NSW UPPER HO– USE
ORDER FOR PAPERS
That, under standing order 52, there be laid upon the table of the House within 14 days of the date of passing of this resolution all documents in the possession, custody or control of the Minister for Heritage and the Minister for the Environment, or the Department of Premier and Cabinet, relating to the development of the KFC restaurant at 227-231 Hunter Street, Newcastle, including the former Palais site, and any document which records or refers to the production of documents as a result of this order of the House.