LETTERS 4.2.17

So wrong
ONE of many things wrong about Roe 8 is that it would tear through the heart of important Noongar heritage.
I am not ‘mob’ and could not do justice to a description of this heritage but I can detail the processes that have led to the imminent destruction of WA’s cultural assets by a regime in its dying days.
The majority of Traditional Owners, or Custodians, for the Wetlands have opposed Roe 8 since they were surveyed by Main Roads in the 80s.
Their opposition and North and Bibra Lakes’ spiritual significance caused the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee to recommend against heritage approval for Roe 8 in February 2013.
In spite of this decision, in June 2015 the Department of Aboriginal Affairs asked the committee – by then with new members and no anthropologist – to re-assess the proposal.
Nothing in Main Roads’ application changed between 2013 and 2015 but the Department’s summary of their evidence, used to guide the committee, was altered greatly – the second time, playing down the lakes’ spiritual significance and Noongar opposition to the road. No mention was made of the committee’s earlier decision.
When pressed by the Greens in Parliament, Minister Collier said the committee was made to re-assess Roe 8 “due to the extended period of time between when the (committee) first considered the matter in 2013 and new information about archaeological heritage places on the land”.
For sites that are thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of years old: February 2013 to June 2015 doesn’t seem to be an “extended period”.
The “new information” to which the Minister referred was an internal report from an investigation in March 2014 when departmental staff walked around a registered archaeological site on Hope Road and dug one 20cm hole, found nothing and concluded the ground was disturbed.
The site was later de-registered, even though archaeologists have previously found more than 2000 quartz, chert and glass artefacts on its surface and agree more are probably sub-surface.
This appalling mock investigation provoked a recent volunteer research project by Traditional Owners and archaeologists on Hope Road.
However, the Transport Minister refused to let that highly qualified team into the most prospective area archeologically, in the now-cleared highway footpath, where many more artefacts almost certainly remain in situ below the surface.
These will be lost forever, unless someone in the Barnett or Turnbull governments regains a vestige of civic responsibility.
Many Noongars have tried to protect the Wetlands but have not been listened to. I pay tribute to Corina Abraham, who challenged Roe 8’s heritage approval in the Supreme Court in 2016.
Unfortunately few clauses exist in the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act to stop a Government intent on wrecking heritage. What was once legal is not always right.
What has happened is not unique: it is representative of this Government’s terrible record on heritage and respect for the values of Aboriginal people in general.
Recent high-profile departures from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs are not enough. Whoever wins Government in March, we Greens will hold them to account, to respect people, places and heritage.
Lynn MacLaren MLC
Greens Member for South
Metropolitan

Fired up
THANKS to the business people for putting together a good fireworks show.
From the war memorial, if a few up-right barriers were moved another 50/60 cars or 400/500 people could have had a good spot.
Vale and Malcolm streets, John Curtin oval, South Mole and the Esplanade were all chock-a-block with visitors.
Tell the mayor; January 26 is January 26 and that’s the way its been for years, leave it so.
Eddy Garbin
Marshall Way, Samson

One me back
IT has been many years since I have taken part in Australia Day celebrations.
This is because I am uncomfortable with the pain that the celebration causes many Indigenous Australians.  Back in 1938, on the 150th anniversary of white settlement, this day was referred to by Indigenous people as “the Day of Mourning”.
More recently, Survival Days have been organised by Indigenous people.
I was really pleased to hear about One Day in Fremantle where all cultures can celebrate living in this wonderful country of ours.  After attending this event on Saturday, I wasn’t disappointed.
The entertainment was great, as were the food stalls — even the weather was perfect.  Most importantly, it was an inclusive event — all cultures were welcome and respected.
Thank you, Fremantle Council – I had a lovely day.  I hope very much that the One Day event continues into the future.
Anne Pedersen
South Fremantle

Spaced out
IT beggars belief that Melville council has any credibility in regard to green/open space within the city.
Some 15 to 20 years ago the city was heavily criticised for having the least green/open space in the metropolitan area.
In your article on the premier’s promise for Roe 9 to go underground you highlighted the Mayor’s reaction: “It will also help to preserve green open space throughout Melville”.
In addition you published a letter from councillor Woodall on the same subject, ” …preserve local green space..”.
Both run counter to the current thrust by the council to move both the Melville Bowling and Mt Pleasant Bowling Clubs from their current locations. Melville to be replaced by a ‘Wave Park’ and Mt Pleasant by housing.
In addition to bowls, both clubs provide a social and community facility in their respective areas. Can the council be trusted, given their ‘two-faced “ attitude.
There is a saying, “beware  of men with forked tongues”.
Peter Johnson
Coogee Rd, Ardross

Driven?
WHERE were the protesters when Roe 8’s little sister Beeliar Drive was widened about three years ago?
It was a narrow, two-way road just like Hope Road in North Lake and runs between Yangebup Lake and Kogalup Lake about four kilometres south (as the cockatoo flies) of Roe 8’s proposed location. It is now a busy, four-lane main road that sees approximately 30,000 vehicles per day.
I have never seen a dead bird, lizard or turtle on this road. They must have adapted to survive. No one lifted a finger to prevent this happening – puzzled.
Pat O’Leary
Williambury Dve, Yangebup

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