Coastal Sun April 4th 2002 – Refshauge Between a Rock and Hard Place / Carr Pays Penalty

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Refshauge Between a Rock and Hard Place

In September 2001, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) wrote to Planning NSW in relation to matters to be addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), concerning the wood processing facility near Mogo. It advised that a “full archaeological survey of the property and any associated infrastructure was required.

Their recent submission reveals that this was not done – “A review of the EIS indicates this assessment was not undertaken.”

Dr Andrew Refshauge MP is the Planning NSW Minister and the NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

As the former, he is the man who can rubber-stamp the development application for the charcoal factory.

As the latter, he must consider carefully the report on cultural heritage from NPWS, regarding Australian Silicon’s EIS.

He is the man ultimately responsible for protecting Aboriginal culture. The findings in the NPWS submission are very critical of the authors of the EIS and concludes the information provided, “is not sufficiently adequate to permit an informed decision in regard to the potential impact of the proposal on what is potentially an important natural and cultural setting.” This places Dr Refshauge between a ‘rock and a hard place’.

He must now find a way to balance his two portfolios to reach an appropriate decision.

Some of the many negative findings in the NPWS report:

* “There is however, no documentation from the Mogo Local Aboriginal Land Council within the EIS. This is a major omission and constitutes a significant failure to adhere to NPWS requirements for extensive consultation with all relevant Aboriginal community groups.”

* ” Failure to discuss recent research indicates a poor understanding of South Coast archaeology on the part of the report authors.”

* “The 1993 report by Navin has never been forwarded to NPWS (the report appears to have been produced for ERM – the company who undertook the EIS for Australian Silicon).

* “It is also inappropriate to use Navin 1993, which is apparently based on research in the Shoalhaven region, well to the north of Broulee, when a more detailed and more locally focused regional synthesis is available in Knight (1996).

* “Failure to refer to Knight demonstrates a poor understanding of the archaeological literature among the EIS authors.”

* Why have burial sites not been discussed given that the site is close to the Candlagen Creek estuary and that a burial site (not shown on the Table A.1) has been recorded 400 m south of this creek at Broulee?”

* “The consultation process for this project appears to have been ineffective.”

* “What does the statement ‘Archaeological sites Site 1 and 1F1 previously recorded by Barber (1995) were ‘thoroughly examined’ mean? “How were the sites thoroughly examined when no subsurface investigation was undertaken?”

* “No staff in SAHU (the appropriate NPWS unit for such consultation) were consulted about these recommendations.”

The report is damning.

ERM appears to have glossed over the impact on cultural heritage and to have ignored recommendations from National Parks and Wildlife, the department charged with preserving the same.

Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Mayor, Peter Cairney is extremely concerned. “The EIS shows total disregard for the rich Aboriginal culture evident on the South Coast and records no consultation, using research from a different region, no detailed examination of the site.

“It’s as if we have taken a giant leap back 200 years.”

Carr Pays Penalty – Major ALP Branch Collapses

The Moruya branch of the ALP – its ‘jewel in the crown’ in the Eden-Monaro electorate – collapsed at its meeting last Wednesday(March 27) with members disillusioned with Premier Bob arr and his Labor Government.

When nominations were called for officeholders, the silence was deafening. Not one person offered to stand.

ALP sources said members had lost faith in their party and it is all due to the actions of one man – the NSW Premier, Bob Carr.

Moruya is very close to the site of a proposed charcoal plant.

This wood-processing facility will produce charcoal, an integral part in the manufacture of silicon. The end product will then be trucked to Australian Silicon’s (AS) smelter at Lithgow.

Mr Carr appears desperate to see the planning process for the plant succeed and is prepared to sacrifice his stated ‘jewel in the crown of NSW’, his ‘last remaining coastal wilderness’ – the Eurobodalla Shire – to get his wish. The Moruya branch does not want the plant.

The members are concerned about the impact it may have on the health of the community.

Among the record number (1521) individual submissions, made to Planning NSW refuting the findings of the Environmental Impact Statement, are several from experts in the environmental field.

Moruya branch members took the findings very seriously and asked that the Premier speak with them.

Mr Carr ignored the request.

Keith Simmons, a long-time party member, was charged with the task of closing down the branch.

“Premier Carr has ignored us. He has shown such arrogance and disdain towards our members and towards the rest of the community that we felt we had no option but to withdraw our support for the ALP,” a disgruntled mr Simmons said.

“There would be only 3 or 4 branch members still willing to hand out at the next state election.

“Our branch has 40 members.

“It has always been very active – we raised 29% of the funds for the Labor candidate, Steve Whan in the last federal election.

“Steve is not very happy with our decision but some things are more important than being a branch member of the Labor Party.

“Health is one of those things.

“I was one of the 400 people, who attended the Sydney rally.

“It was hot and uncomfortable, but I felt it was worth the effort.

“I expected Mr Carr to come out and speak to us. He did not bother.”

Mr Simmons met the Premier at the opening of the Eurobodalla Shire Botanical Gardens last year where the Premier signed ‘Doc’ Evatt’s biography for him. Keith wryly said, “I am thinking of sending the book back. I don’t want Mr Carr’s autograph anymore.”

As late as yesterday, Mr Simmons was ringing round former members of the branch.

He said he was confident he would retain enough of them to fill the vital positions and have sufficient to hold regular monthly branch meetings. It used to be that ALP country branches could meet every second month during winter with as few as six members present to constitute a proper meeting. It is not known if that remains the case in regard to the ALP Moruya’s branch.

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