Today the NSW Parliament has rallied around a Greens motion calling for the protection of irreplaceable cultural heritage at Wahluu, otherwise known as Mt Panorama, and acknowledged the significance of the site to the Wiradjuri people.
Bathurst Regional Council is now under increased pressure to halt its plans to build a go-kart track on Wahluu and instead work with traditional owners and the local community to find an acceptable alternative site for the track.
Wahluu meaning “man’s meeting place” is of enormous significance due to its history as a ceremonial and burial ground and because of its place in songlines that link First Nations peoples across the state.
The fact that the motion passed without any dissenting voices in the NSW Upper House with members from across the political spectrum including the Coalition, Labor, Greens and conservative crossbench members, shows the growing support for protecting First Nations heritage in the community.
Greens MP and First Nations Justice spokesperson David Shoebridge said
“The ongoing importance of Wahluu’s Aboriginal heritage has now been recognised by the NSW Parliament, and this shows just how out of touch Bathurst Regional Council is on this project.
“I’ve been to Wahluu and spoken with traditional owners and they have told me directly about the cultural significance of the site and the disrespect shown to them and their culture by the Council.
“The ball is now firmly in the Council’s court to follow the lead of the Parliament and find an alternative site for the project that protects Wahluu,
“There’s a lot of land around Bathurst and only a lack of imagination and a lack of respect for First Nations’ culture would see the Council continue to persist with its plan to destroy Wahluu.
“Put simply the proposal to deliberately destroy Wiradjuri heritage for the sake of a go-kart track is desecration and it is no wonder there is such strong opposition to it in Parliament,” Mr Shoebridge said.
The Full Text of the Motion adopted today is below:
NOTICE OF MOTION
Mr Shoebridge says—
I give notice that on the next sitting day I will move:
(1) That this House notes that:
a. Mount Panorama in Bathurst is known as Wahluu and is a place of enormous importance to the Wiradjuri people as a significant site in the cultural songlines of the region that are at the core of Aboriginal cultural practice.
b. A go-kart track has been proposed for the top of Wahluu which would significantly damage the cultural heritage of the mountain, as well as destroying access and amenity of the much loved McPhillamy Park which was gifted to the community as public open space.
(2) That this House recognises that:
a. To attempt to defend this important place the Wiradyuri Traditional Owners submitted a Section 10 claim to Minister for the Environment, Senator Sussan Ley.
b. No determination has been made on the section 10 but Bathurst Council has indicated they will begin works on 8 March 2021.
c. Council has acted as its own approval authority for the proposal, have not engaged in appropriate public consultation and has to date failed to secure grant funding for the construction of the track.
d. Council have to date failed to find alternative sites in the area.
(3) That this House affirms:
a. Its support for the protection of the important Aboriginal heritage of this site and the need to respect the bequest of parkland here;
b. Its acknowledgement of the ongoing importance of Aboriginal cultural heritage; and
c. The desirability of finding an acceptable alternative site for the go-kart development.