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[PRESS RELEASE]: Opposition to Darkinjung Development Continues

Opposition to Darkinjung Development Continues

A controversial development planned in the vicinity of an area known as ‘Kariong Sacred Lands’ is back in the spotlight with a proposal to rezone the land for a residential development soon to go on public exhibition.

The developer, Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council (DLALC) recently expressed that they believe people are spreading “misinformation” and that the development is “conscious and ecologically sustainable.”

DLALC Chairperson, Tina West recently said in a public statement “Caring for Country is at the core of our mission. We exist to protect and conserve the environment and Aboriginal cultural heritage for generations to enjoy, while also creating tangible social and well-being benefits for the broader community.”

Coast Environmental Alliance (CEA) Spokesperson Jake Cassar said “While we fully appreciate the need for more housing, there is nothing conscious or sustainable about gutting an area that has been zoned by the Government to not allow any development due to the extremely important ecological values and cultural significance of the area.”“The Government specifically zoned this parcel of land C2 – Environmental Conservation, which is the highest protection private land can receive Cassar added.

“The C2 zone was put in place to ensure that land with cultural heritage and threatened flora and fauna is protected. The zoning is also given to areas such as this to ensure that endangered wetlands which are critically important to primary industries, including the oyster leases in Brisbane Water, remain in their pristine state.”

“Locals need to be well aware that if DLALC are supported by the Government in successfully claiming such land and rezoning it to open it up to their bulldozers, then literally no Crown Land is safe.”

“DLALC has successfully claimed ecologically sensitive land at Norah Head encompassing a huge area of the bushland that connects with the beach, and have over 1000 more land claims currently being assessed by the Government.”

“If DLALC can rezone this C2 land at Kariong, then it will set a dangerous precedent that could have devastating and far-reaching implications for the rest of the Central Coast” Cassar added.

Indigenous Spokesperson for CEA, Kirt Mallie, joined Cassar and said “As a Torres Straight Islander, to have to battle an Indigenous organisation such as DLALC to preserve sacred sites is absolutely heart breaking. To put it frankly, they really should know better.”

“After nearly a decade-long battle to protect the famous Grandmother tree and her surrounds at Bambara, both the Aboriginal community and the broader community actually worked with DLALC to have the area officially registered as ‘Kariong Sacred Lands Aboriginal Place’, due to the enormous amount of cultural heritage in the area.”

“How can DLALC fully acknowledge the cultural significance of Kariong Sacred Lands, but continue to push forward with their development proposal? It makes no sense.”

Mallie said “It’s important to note that Darkinjung is a made-up name created when DLALC was first established. It is well known that the tribe on the Western part of the Central Coast are the Darkinoong, not Darkinjung. The main Coastal people are the Guringai, so myself and others in the local Indigenous community find it very offensive to see the “Darkinjung Country” signs displayed at key locations on the Central Coast.”

“I was born and raised in the Gosford area, whereas the vast majority of people on DLALC are not originally from the Central Coast. They certainly don’t speak on behalf of the broader Indigenous community.” Mallie added.

“I respectfully challenge the statement made by DLALC Chairperson, Tina West, suggesting that ‘The majority of Aboriginal people on the Central Coast have supported the progression of this rezoning through the NSW Planning System for almost a decade.’ How is this possible when DLALC’s entire membership represents less than 4 per cent of the overall Central Coast Aboriginal population? In other words, the vast majority of the local Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander community are not members of this private organisation.”

Mallie said “We have confirmed with Government agencies that there are indeed known and registered cultural sites on the land they are planning to develop. These ancient treasures will be destroyed if this goes ahead, which is deeply distressing to many people in the Aboriginal community. It simply should not be allowed to happen, and irrespective of who the developer is.”

“Apart from destroying cultural heritage, endangered wetlands and rare and endangered flora and fauna species, this development will open up nearby sacred sites to vandalism and graffiti. Furthermore, the introduction of domestic animals such as cats and dogs and all the extra traffic will be devastating to the area listed by the Government as an Area of Regional Koala Significance (ARKS).” Mallie continued.

Cassar said “The proposed development is only a short walk from the famous Grandmother tree and controversial Egyptian Hieroglyphs. This iconic destination is visited by thousands of tourists each year including international guests. I featured in a History Chanel series about the Hieroglyphs that was viewed by millions around the world, and recently took world renowned photographer, Ken Duncan, and 5 time Gold Logie award winning journalist Ray Martin to visit the site.”

“A development in this unique and much loved area will completely change the face of this very popular attraction, which could significantly impact tourism and our local economy.” Cassar added.

Cassar said “DLALC are the largest private land owner on the Central Coast and have other very lucrative developments in the pipeline. I suggest that DLALC doesn’t need to destroy this very special part of Kariong Sacred Lands, and I respectfully call on their members to reconsider their position.”

CEA are urging the community to write to the Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch, to gain her support in finding a resolution that protects Kariong Sacred Lands, while ensuring that DLALC is compensated or given other developable land to meet their economic goals.

CEA will be making a link available on their Coast Environmental Alliance (CEA) Facebook page for those wanting to make a submission regarding the rezoning when it comes up for public submissions.

(Photo: Paul Craig, Jake Cassar and Ray Martin at the grandmother tree).

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