Indigenous group claims state government failed to consult on Marinus Link

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An indigenous group said a Tasmanian government company failed to properly consult on a multibillion-dollar project planned to traverse an “incredibly sensitive” area that is the subject of an indigenous title claim.

TasNetworks subsidiary Marinus Link has proposed a new Bass Strait submarine cable to provide additional power between Tasmania and Victoria.

The $ 3.5 billion project – expected to be built in two stages and requiring a converter station in each state – would more than triple the capacity available with existing Basslink cable.

According to documents filed by Marinus Link, project officials consulted with three Victorian-era indigenous groups interested in the state’s proposed route, which would start in the Latrobe Valley, cross the Strzelecki Ranges south, and then descend. the valley of the Tarwin river to the bay of Waratah. on the south coast of the state.

But one of the groups – the Boon Wurrung Foundation – said its representatives had not met with people involved in the Marinus Link project since January 2019.

“They should actually contact us and begin a proper consultation process as required by law,” said Jason Briggs, senior lawyer for Massar Briggs Law and a member of the Boon Wurrung Foundation.

The Boon Wurrung Foundation has filed an application in Federal Court for an Aboriginal title claim covering more than 13,000 square kilometers from Melton to Wilsons Headland.

Aboriginal Archaeologists Australia director Dave Johnston, board member of the Boon Wurrung Foundation, said the coastline included in the proposed Marinus Link route is known for its initiation sites, shell mounds and his graves.

“This region is rich in heritage,” said Mr. Johnston.

Mr Briggs said Marinus Link’s claim to have consulted his group was extraordinary in light of the findings on the destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters in Western Australia.

This week, a federal parliamentary inquiry into the disaster recommended new laws to protect sacred sites.

“They should actually come talk to us and show us what their proposal is, how they are going to manage the risk, all the details of their cultural heritage management plan and how they are going to involve the people of Boon Wurrung in the management of the project.” , says Mr. Briggs.

“Being totally left out of the process is just strange enough.

“We would not hesitate to table an emergency declaration on this matter if our cultural heritage was at stake.”

The group will manage the impacts on cultural heritage

The Bunurong Land Council is recognized by the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council as the registered Native Party for the Mornington Peninsula, Westernport and part of southwestern Gippsland.

The third group affected by the proposed route is the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation, the registered Aboriginal party for much of Gippsland.

On Country chief executive Daniel Miller said his group will support Marinus Link by monitoring and helping to manage its impacts on cultural heritage.

“[The Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation] has had some communication with the Marinus project team and looks forward to exploring how traditional owners can be actively involved in the construction and operation phases of this important project, ”said Mr. Miller.

Marinus Link said it had filed documents with Victoria’s environment departments and the federal government earlier this month. He has not yet submitted a referral for the Tasmanian part of the project.

Marinus Link chief executive Bess Clark said the company is committed to sustainability and will follow “robust… standards” to minimize impacts.

“We strive to work closely with local residents, landowners, traditional owners and businesses to manage concerns and listen and learn from the local community,” she said.

“There will be opportunities for the community to provide comments during the environmental assessment process.


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