In a social media post, ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury has restated the need for stronger environment protection laws after "receiving distressing messages from First Nations people" in the wake of the bulldozing of the contentious Doma development site on Mount Ainslie.
The former CSIRO site on Limestone Avenue was bulldozed just before Christmas, including ancient volcanic outcrops which had been tagged as of potential Indigenous significance.
Indigenous elder Shane Mortimer, a Nyamudy-Ngambri man, had described the act as "cultural vandalism" as he says the site contained petroglyphs, tools and man-made markings tens of thousands of years old.
He has been campaigning for an independent assessment and was deeply distressed to find that civil works had begun at the site, scoring, shifting and crushing the rock formations.
The site was purchased by the Doma Group for $20 million in 2016 and is slated for redevelopment as The Foothills, with eight-storey luxury apartment buildings on Limestone Avenue and 125 townhouses on the incline behind.
After touring the site last year, ACT Greens MLA and Minister for Environment and Heritage, Rebecca Vassarotti, issued a statement in which she said "my hands are tied because the development approval lies with the National Capital Authority and not the ACT government".
I’d encourage you to read it and learn how the residential development was allowed to proceed, and why we urgently need better environmental protection laws that respect the rights of First Nation Australians in decision-making → https://t.co/43AncjpwaS— Shane Rattenbury MLA (@ShaneRattenbury) January 11, 2022
"This travesty is yet another example of the [Commonwealth] Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act failing to do what it was designed to do," Ms Vassarotti said.
In a social media post on Tuesday, Mr Rattenbury said that he "stood by" the statements that Ms Vassarotti had made last year.
The federal Environment Department said it had not consulted Indigenous groups because no world or national heritage sites had been identified on the land.
Similarly, the National Capital Authority consultation report of October 2019 was ambivalent as to the heritage value of the outcrops, and found no significance to the granite rock outcrops.
Doma's managing director Jure Domazet said that the claim had been investigated and jurisdiction of the site belonged to the Commonwealth "and we are carrying our development work in accordance with our development approvals".
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