ANOTHER obstacle for the Bathurst Kart Club has been cleared now that modifications to the original go-kart track design have been given the green light.
Councillors met at an extraordinary meeting of Bathurst Regional Council on Wednesday, where they had to decide whether or not to approve the modifications, one of which would extend the track to international standard length.
Their decision followed an intense public forum, which gave people one last chance to have their say.
In the end, only councillors John Fry and Monica Morse voted against the proposal, with Warren Aubin, Bobby Bourke, Alex Christian, Jess Jennings, Ian North and Jacqui Rudge supporting the recommendation before them.
A loud cheer erupted from the public gallery when the decision was clear, with kart club members and supporters seen exchanging handshakes after the meeting.
During discussion, Cr Bourke said he would be making “a common sense decision” based on the information contained within the report from council’s director of Environmental Planning and Building Services.
“We’ve waited to long for this to continue on,” he said.
He also put a long list of questions to general manager David Sherley, to ensure the public gallery had all the answers before a decision was made.
The questions included:
- What have we spent on the Aboriginal cultural heritage investigations? (Answer: Taking into account various studies around Mount Panorama, the expense for consultants and other relevant people was “just over $500,000”.)
- Was it the Bathurst Aboriginal Land Council that supported the dual naming of Mount Panorama – Wahluu, and the Wiradyuri elders were no part of it? (Answer: The application was made by Bathurst Regional Council and the land council)
- Prior to 2015, were there any [site] cards put on Mount Panorama by the Wiradyuri group against this DA? (Answer: Mr Sherley’s review of the site claims made in the go-kart Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment showed that the five site cards relating to the area proposed for the DA were submitted on October 14, 2016 (2); May 4, 2017 (2); and May 19, 2017 (1). Nothing prior to 2015.)
- When the modified DA was lodged in 2016, was council approached by the Wiradyuri group [saying] they would remove the cards for a deal of $2.50 out of ticket sales at the Mount? (Answer: No. They discussed in a meeting with Extent Heritage that in terms of the overall discussion of Mount Panorama, “they would push ahead with a land claim and also an Indigenous Land Use Agreement and would seek compensation, for example $2.50 for every ticket sold at the Mount”.)
- Is it true that there’s over 2000 items in the Australian Museum from Mount Panorama? (Answer:The museum advised that there are 2496 items donated by Percy Gresser, but further stated they are not specifically related to Mount Panorama, but the museum does not have that information regarding their specific source.)
Cr Christian agreed that a decision had to be made based on common sense, with himself relying more on the report supplied to councillors.
He felt the conflicting opinions of two different Aboriginal groups in Bathurst made it hard to determine how culturally significant the site was, if at all.
“Absolutely nothing, no scar trees, no objects, came back as a result of these studies,” he said.
“So how councillors are to be criticised tonight for voting for this kart track is a head-scratcher for me, because on one hand I'm being told this is a sacred site, but on the other these studies are saying it's not.”
Cr Aubin reminded the chamber that a track was approved for the contentious site in 2015, and that the vote was only to modify plans.
He also refuted several arguments from the opposing side, saying noise wouldn’t be a disruption all the time and that the Mount’s racing history indicated there was very little fire risk.
“We can be so proud to have a go-kart track on top of this mountain to help young people into this sport and to be used as a community asset,” Cr Aubin said.