BATHURST Regional Council has paid out more than $500,000 on Aboriginal heritage reports as part of its plans to continue developing Mount Panorama.
The blowout in consultants’ fee has been outlined in a report to councillors that also reveals around $100,000 will be paid to registered Aboriginal parties for their input into Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessments (ACHA) for the new go-kart track, proposed second circuit and upgrade of The Chase campground.
Extent Heritage has previously been commissioned to prepare the cultural heritage assessments for the go-kart track and campground and will be granted the contract to complete the second circuit ACHA without going to tender.
A report by environmental, planning and building services acting director Richard Denyer said the assessments aim to “clearly delineate areas of varying cultural heritage sensitivity to guide future land use and management, and provide greater certainty to all stakeholders”.
“Extent Heritage have obtained extensive research data and experience following their work to date that would not be available to any other firm,” Mr Denyer wrote.
“The quality of work produced by Extent Heritage to date has been of a very high quality. On this basis additional quotes for the [second circuit] project are not recommended to be sought.”
Councillor Jess Jennings said the reports were a case of money well spent.
“Even though we are seeing some pretty big figures here, I want to point out that Mount Panorama has produced literally hundreds of millions of dollars of economic benefit for Bathurst,” Cr Jennings said.
“Getting this right in terms of Aboriginal culture is absolutely critical and this investment over the long term will be very worthwhile.”
Cr Ian North agreed: “We need to do these studies.
“Yes, they sometimes cost a lot of money but it will be money well spent in the long term because we will know what’s around and what we need to do to do things right.”
The Registered Aboriginal Parties involved in the preparation of the cultural assessments include the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council; DHUULUU-YALA enterprises; Wiradjuri Traditional Owners Central West Aboriginal Corporation; Bathurst Wiradyuri and Aboriginal Community Elders; Warrabinga Native Title Claimants Aboriginal Corporation, based in Mudgee; Murra Budgee Aboriginal Corp, based in Sydney; and Mooke, based in Cowra.