Bathurst councillor John Fry is pleading to fellow councillors to take the concerns of the Wiradyuri elders seriously as they threaten legal action around the chosen go-kart site.
In a letter to councillors [and an accompanying media statement], the Wiradyuri Traditional Owners Central West Aboriginal Corporation [WTOCWAC] state they have commenced legal action in regards to the approved development of a $4.5 million go-kart track in McPhillamy Park, atop Mount Panorama.
The statement says WTOCWAC "has made two applications for declarations under section 10 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984: one regarding the women's site, and one regarding the entirety of Wahluu-Mount Panorama."
Both applications are pending decision from federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley.
Cr Fry said he has received word from WTOCWAC that they are willing to drop the section 10 clause if councillors resolve to move the site.
"While I'm certain the minds of particular councillors are already made up, this is a vital chance at reconciliation with the Wiradyuri elders, and I'll be putting a resolution forward to attempt to break this impasse at this Wednesday's council meeting," he said.
"We shouldn't go to court over this, this has the potential to drag on for years because it's such a controversial issue."
Cr Fry said legal action has the potential to place a significant strain on both parties involved.
He said the evidence against the chosen site should be taken more seriously.
"I believe the case against the chosen site has support from a wide range of community and professional groups who all want McPhillamy Park to remain open in its entirety to everyone," he said.
"It's not just the intangible Wiradyuri cultural values, it's about the protection of endangered woodland and the preservation of an area gifted to the entire community by the McPhillamy family in the 1930s."
Cr Fry put forward a notice of motion to move the track at a June 17 council meeting, which was defeated at a vote of six to three.
However, general manager David Sherley declared at the same meeting that the track "will only go ahead if it's grant funded, and is subject to council resolutions in the future."
The WTOCWAC statement also acknowledges the group "is in the process of making an application under the Native Title Act 1993 in regard to Wahluu and has also applied for a declaration of Wahluu as an Aboriginal Place under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 [NSW]."
"We were incredibly disheartened to find that council is proceeding with the construction of a go-kart site on Wahluu-Mount Panorama," Wiradyuri elder Yanhadarrambal Jade Flynn said in the statement.
"We are issuing this media statement to inform the broader community of our concerns, educate our community of the sacredness of this Indigenous site and reemphasize the finding of the 2018 Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment [ACHA] report."
Mr Sherley stated last month that council "has undertaken works on site that show substantive commencement on the project."
He also said council took the differing opinions of all Registered Aboriginal Parties into account regarding the impact on "intangible cultural heritage values" before moving forward.
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