COUNCILLOR Warren Aubin has said Bathurst Regional Council and the city are being held “to ransom” as it attempts to get a go-kart track built at Mount Panorama.
A report came before councillors at last Wednesday night’s ordinary meeting regarding a request to modify the consent given to the original development application (DA) for the track.
Bathurst Kart Club wants to increase the length of the track, originally 950 metres, so it will be able to host larger and more prestigious events.
During council’s consultation with both parties on March 7, the Bathurst Wiradyuri Elders indicated they strongly opposed the construction of the track at its proposed location, while the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Lands Council said it supported the development in principal.
The consultation was facilitated by Extent Heritage and its report in relation to the meeting was provided to council.
Cr Aubin took issue with one point in the report from Extent Heritage, where it states that the Bathurst Wiradyuri Elders have indicated “they wish to negotiate a fee or percentage of gate takings for various motor racing events held each year at Mount Panorama”.
“It is just disgusting that people think they can hold a council and a town to ransom for this activity to go ahead,” Cr Aubin said.
“It's a group of people who have formed a go kart club in this city and they've got over 200 members ready to go up and use this facility, plus, I think what was spoken to me by the president of the club, was about 15 user groups that wish to come and use the facility.
“It's going to bring heaps of tourism and money into this city, and to think that we are getting held to ransom by this group, it just astounds me.”
He was supported by Cr Bobby Bourke, who said it was just a small portion of the Aboriginal community taking issue with the location of the track, despite there being no objections when the original DA was approved.
According to the Extent Heritage report, the Bathurst Wiradyuri Elders do not support the track being built at the proposed location under any circumstances.
They advised Extent Heritage during the meeting that they “will use the mechanisms available under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 for protection of Aboriginal Heritage to protect what they believe are important sites and values”.
The report also says that the two Aboriginal groups have “clear differences of opinion” regarding the area.
The next stage in the journey to get the go-kart track built is for council to obtain an Aboriginal and Cultural Heritage Assessment (ACHA) for the subject land to inform the application to modify the DA.
It will also obtain cultural heritage mapping of the Mount Panorama precinct to inform the longer term cultural heritage of the management of the area.
Once these studies have been completed, the modification to the original DA can come back to council for consideration.
The ACHA and cultural mapping are estimated to cost up to $239,730, excluding GST and including contingencies.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, Cr Aubin also took issue with this.
"It is just woeful how we have to go spend $240,000-odd of ratepayers’ money because we've had an objection from a small group within the community to this go-kart track going ahead,” he said.
Council has not yet undertaken general public consultation regarding the modification to the DA.