Government accused of ‘dismissing and belittling’
The Palaszczuk government has been accused of dismissing the concerns of Indigenous elders in favour of mining and property developers in a spray delivered by state Greens MP Amy MacMahon.
The Member for South Brisbane cited three regions in Queensland where First Nations people are fighting development projects to preserve culturally significant land, blasting the Labor government for failing to learn from the highly publicised destruction of the Juukan Gorge by mining giant Rio Tinto.
"There's a common thread in these struggles," Ms MacMahon told parliament on Wednesday night.
"Labor's habit of dismissing and belittling First Nations people's concerns if they stand in the way of their projects and big corporate donors."
These sites include the Kabi elders fighting to save the Djaki Kundu from the Bruce Highway extension in Gympie, elders camping out at Deebing Creek to resist property development, and the endeavour to prevent the construction of a tourist whale interpretive facility on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island).
"You'd think that this government would have learned a lesson from their Labor colleagues in Victoria, who approved the destruction of sacred Djap Wurrung trees," she said.
"Or their Labor colleagues over in WA, who are now responding to the destruction of the Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara.
"The fact is, what Labor really cares about is the profits of their mining and property developer mates, and rushing ahead with highway expansions that suit their political agenda."
The scathing speech comes a week after Kabi elders received an eviction notice from the Department of Transport and Marine Roads accusing the group of trespassing.
Djaki Kundu guardian Diane Djaki Widjung said various artefacts were scattered across the area including remnants of standing stone statues and numerous stone circles, and it also had intangible places of significance such as a Seven Sisters Dreaming site, a healing site and a sacred women's area.
"It's a very spiritual place because it is also important for the water spirit dreaming and basically Transport and Main Roads have said for years that there's nothing here that they regard as Aboriginal because they want to destroy it," she told NCA NewsWire.
Ms Widjung, who is regarded as a lore woman by her tribal elders, said the Queensland government had ignored Kabi elders for years and intended to break Commonwealth law by bulldozing the site.
"It is actually a crime to destroy what they call Aboriginal cultural heritage," she said.
"If tribal people say there is intangible and/or tangible heritage in a certain site, they're not supposed to destroy it."
Originally published as Labor accused of 'dismissing and belittling'