Aboriginal leader slams NSW Government over development blocks

‘Mixed messages’ jibe | photos, video Questions: Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive Sean Gordon says the NSW Government is preventing his organisation from developing its potential, after controversial mine and rail decisions.
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Darkinjung chief executive Sean Gordon and planning and development manager Lynne Hamilton on the Bushells Ridge site.

Constraints: Lynne Hamilton and Sean Gordon at the access point where coal infrastructure is proposed, and where Darkinjung believes access to its land will be blocked.

Stopped: Sean Gordon on Darkinjung land only metres from the Sydney-Newcastle rail line. Transport for NSW rated Darkinjung land as the preferred site for a rail maintenance facility.

Prevented: Sean Gordon on Darkinjung land on the other side of the Sydney-Newcastle rail line, where the Aboriginal Land Council had hoped to sell land for a rail maintenance facility.

Flood: Kangy Angy land under flood, showing the depth of water at the area’s access point beneath a rail bridge.

Wet: The level of flood waters through parts of Kangy Angy where Transport for NSW has proposed a rail maintenance facility.

Wetter: Another section of Kangy Angy flood plain under water.

TweetFacebookDarkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council is a shining example of what an Aboriginal organisation should and can be. We don’t sit around waiting for a hand out from government. We take it upon ourselves to create our own revenue.

Darkinjung chief executive Sean GordonThe view of Darkinjung is that all residents should have the same types of rights that Darkinjung has so that it forces governments to sit down and negotiate fair outcomes, rather than just use their own deadline to force people out of their homes.

Sean Gordon

The department also rejected a Subsidence Advisory NSW (the former Mine Subsidence Board) request that Wallarah 2 accept responsibility for any damage to existing surface improvements by mine subsidence, after noting significant expected subsidence impacts.

Transport for NSW expressed concerns about negotiating with Darkinjung over its Bushells Ridge or Blue Haven land for the rail maintenance facility because Darkinjung had made native title claims over parts of the land.

It cited the 2019 deadline for when the Intercity trains are in operation.

“These trains need a maintenance facility open in time for the fleet to be in service,” a Transport for NSW spokesperson said.

“We cannot risk entering into negotiations with any party who is likely not to be in a position to help us meet this important deadline for our customers.”

Mr Gordon rejected Transport for NSW’s explanation, and said Darkinjung had completed rezonings and subdivisions over land while native title claims were outstanding.

“Native title’s not a deterrent. It just means they have to sit down and negotiate with us,” Mr Gordon said.

“Their problem is that they can’t compulsorily acquire the land, which is what they were able to do at Kangy Angy so that families were forced out of their homes.

“The view of Darkinjung is that all residents should have the same types of rights that Darkinjung has so that it forces governments to sit down and negotiate fair outcomes, rather than just use their own deadline to force people out of their homes.

“It’s a pretty poor excuse on the part of Transport for NSW.”

Mr Gordon said he was reminded of Noel Pearson’s recent speech in which he raised the issue of the “soft bigotry of low expectation” facing Indigenous ns.

“Darkinjung is a shining example of what an Aboriginal organisation should and can be. We don’t sit around waiting for a hand out from government. We take it upon ourselves to create our own revenue to fund our ambitious community programs,” he said.

We’re focussed on improving the journeys of tens of thousands of Newcastle and Central Coast train customers by delivering a new fleet of state-of-the-art Intercity trains from 2019.

These trains need a maintenance facility open in time for the fleet to be in service. We cannot risk entering into negotiations with any party who is likely not to be in a position to help us meet this important deadline for our customers.

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