Environment Minister Sussan Ley has rejected the latest application for heritage protection of Aboriginal birthing trees on the Western Highway outside of Ararat.
This decision now allows Major Road Projects Victoria to resume work on the duplication between Buangor and Ararat which has been held up for months.
Minister Ley told ABC Ballarat that the duplication is a project that will make it safer for people driving on the Western Highway which was a key consideration.
“There has been significant consultation with Traditional Owners and I acknowledge the involvement of all parties in ensuring the protection of the five trees identified as culturally significant.”
Ms Ley did not find a sixth tree culturally significant.
Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV) also received notification today from the Department of the Environment and Energy that no protection declaration would be made on an area known as Djab Wurrung Country.
“We’re pleased that a decision has been reached and we’ll be looking to recommence work as soon as possible,” Andrew Williams, Director Development and Performance, Major Road Projects Victoria said.
It is expected that the reasoning behind the decision will be released by the Federal Government in the coming weeks.
MRPV next steps are to review project delivery requirements and timelines and get back to work on the project.
Zellanach Djab Mara has been leading the push for protection at the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy, going live on Facebook this afternoon to call for support on country.
“I’ve just finished speaking to our legal representative. He has informed me that the minister has rejected our application for protection of this particular area,” he shared.
“That means that (Major Road Projects Victoria) can affectively come onto the properties today, tomorrow, the next day – whenever they chose… and come and start works.
“I need all my warriors to get up on country. This is a red alert. We have seen plenty of activity, plenty of vehicles up at the contractor’s office.
“I do believe that they are preparing for a big removal of us.”
- Straight from our newsroom