MOTION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY IN THE NSW UPPER HOUSE
LOSS OF UNIQUE ABORIGINAL HERITAGE IN NEWCASTLE WEST
That this House notes that:
- Approximately one year ago a fast food restaurant costing $2.5 million was built in Hunter Street, Newcastle West, over one of the most significant Aboriginal heritage sites in New South Wales.
- The Excavation Report for this site was not released until one month ago, almost a year after the restaurant was built, thus making its assessment of the heritage impact of the development redundant.
- The Excavation Report found the site to be of “high to exceptional cultural and scientific significance” and should have been available before the restaurant was built so as to justify retention of the site as a state significant site of Aboriginal cultural heritage.
- The site contained a significant number of artefacts, including ancient Aboriginal stone tools with unique stonework and campsite remains, which are over 6,000 years old, evidence of some of the earliest human settlement in the Newcastle area.
- The site also included a large array of colonial-era artefacts.
- Under the previous government Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permits, effectively permits to destroy Aboriginal heritage sites, were given at the rate of approximately 5 per week.
- Members of the local Awabakal people have stated that the final excavation report “highlighted the lack of rigour in the state government’s assessment of Aboriginal heritage”.
- No acceptable plan has been made for the retention and display of these unique artefacts in the local region.
That this House:
- Recognises the irreplaceable nature of this state’s Aboriginal heritage and the value of Aboriginal artefacts, and acknowledges the tragic loss of Aboriginal heritage that this development has created.
- Calls on the government to review the failings in the current Aboriginal heritage protection regime and consider measures to ensure that a similar tragedy does not occur in the future.
ORDER FOR PAPERS PASSED UNANIMOUSLY IN NSW UPPER HOUSE
ORDER FOR PAPERS
That, under standing order 52, there be laid upon the table of the House within 14 days of the date of passing of this resolution all documents in the possession, custody or control of the Minister for Heritage and the Minister for the Environment, or the Department of Premier and Cabinet, relating to the development of the KFC restaurant at 227-231 Hunter Street, Newcastle, including the former Palais site, and any document which records or refers to the production of documents as a result of this order of the House.