Burns hits out over lack of talk

THE COUNCIL has been accused of not consulting enough with local Butchulla people over allowing developers to build over sacred sites, including the graves of loved ones.

Elders report that tenants who have moved into new houses at Urangan have seen “people walking through walls” and then discovered they are living on the edge of a sacred burial ground.

Mackie Burns, co-chair of the Indigenous Advisory Committee for the Fraser Island World Heritage area, said yesterday he was “appalled” at how many times over recent years the former Hervey Bay City Council and now the present council “simply run roughshod over our cultural and spiritual heritage”.

“I am not saying stop all development. I am saying: ‘Ask us first in case a piece of land, particularly council or crown land, is significant to the Butchulla people.’

“I am not raising this issue to grab at money. The problem here is applicants on the Native Title claims in this region do not always live here, live On Country. The claimants like me are never consulted because we are not the applicants.”

But a council spokesperson said it was only when council built on its own land that it needed to seek indigenous involvement such as bringing in an archaeologist to check out the site for aboriginal remains.

And when a developer wanted to build on vacant land that developer also had to adhere to State Government law to ascertain cultural heritage of the site.

Butchulla leader Norman Barney said he had been told that workers on a development site in Hervey Bay had allegedly found bones but were told “to keep quiet” about them.

And one elder said two of her brothers had been buried as babies in the back yard of the family home and then had a house built over them.

“I am still grieving about that,” she said.

“I’ve know the mayor here for years,” Norman Barney said, “but why doesn’t he just come out to Scrub Hill occasionally and have a cup of coffee with us, a talk between friends? We’re not asking for formal meetings, just a sign that he is interested in preserving our cultural heritage.”

Mr Kruger is currently on holiday so could not comment.

But councillor Les MucKan said if there was sufficient consultation between council and the indigenous community he “wouldn’t be out there calling for it all the time”.

“I’ve mentioned consultation half a dozen times in council meetings in recent weeks. In general there’s not enough consultation between council and the wider community.

“And while the Labor party has been congratulating itself on getting the indigenous preamble into the constitution in reality they are not doing enough. It’s all lip service.”

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