Image for To call middens “tips” is utter ignorance

This letter was sent in response to the Letters to the Editor which were very inflamatory to the Aboriginal Community and the Gagebrook overpass:

The above writers to the point of this email (11 a.m. Sunday) have been gutless enough to hide their identities by not signing their names.  Their attitudes must be viewed as racist as they make the assupmtion of their supriority and denigrate others. 

To call middens “tips” is utter ignorance. 

The Mansells and the rest of the Aboriginal community and those of us “white fellas’ who are in agreement with the value of the Gagebrook discovery can only condemn such attitudes and narrow minded thinking. 

We encourage the Aboriginal community to continue to stand up against such abominable thinking. 

The mind set of these people must be condemned. 

We also send a plea to the Government and Oppositions(s) to dig deeper and examine their attitudes.

Senator Christine Milne

Saturday 7 August 2010

Federal Government Must Intervene at Brighton

“The Brighton Bypass fiasco demonstrates that Tasmania’s indigenous heritage in the Lower Jordan Valley is not valued or respected at the state level and so the federal Government must intervene to stop the work whilst the alternative routes are assessed, “Senator Christine Milne, Australian Greens Deputy leader said today.

“All Tasmanians should be celebrating the discovery of a cultural site at the Jordan River levee which reveals continuous settlement for 42,000 years. It is not just a wonderful site for Tasmania, it is of significance to the world because it provides insight into what life was like for hunter gatherer communities 42,000 years ago and through the ages.”

“Protection and proper interpretation of the site should be the first priority, not excuses about how much it will cost to fix the mistakes of the Tasmanian government.”

“There will be a cost in re routing the road and responsibility for that should be sheeted home fairly and squarely to the Tasmanian government and the incompetence of its departments in building a road before it had assessments, approvals and permits. Why should we all suffer the loss of our precious heritage because of government incompetence?”

Minister Garrett must come to Tasmania before the election and make clear the Commonwealth’s position since he has had a heritage listing application on his desk for weeks.”

“In a week when we have secured a World Heritage Listing of the convict sites because they are of ‘outstanding universal value’, what does it say about us as Tasmanians if we don’t stop the road works whilst alternative routes are investigated?”

“In the late 1800’s Port Arthur was allowed to fall into disrepair and as recently as 1989, there was no protection of the Coal Mines site because they were not valued, now they are on the world’s list of special places.”

“It is fundamentally wrong that 3 million Aboriginal artefacts aged up to 42,000 years old should not be protected by our heritage laws because indigenous heritage is specifically excluded.”

“Heritage is a window to our past, and the Indigenous community of Tasmania have just had theirs smashed thanks to the state’s Heritage Act which discriminates against the protection of indigenous heritage sites.”

Senator Milne attended the launch of a campaign to save Lower Jordan Valley Aboriginal heritage at the Parliament House lawns in Hobart today.

Christian Bell:

Recently there have been some media comments on why Aboriginal sites such as those at Brighton are not World Heritage listed and have not been conserved in a similar manner as the recently successful Convict Serial Sites World Heritage nomination.

Well for start it took nearly twenty years from the first conception of nominating these convict sites to the successful conclusion. People might recall that the development of Tasmania’ s first World Heritage Area (Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area) had a lot swifter gestation but however both state and federal governments now insist upon many years of domestic consultation before any proposal (or even any extension of an existing World Heritage Area) can be forwarded to UNESCO. Also the queue has grown longer with regard to having a nominations assessed as other countries wish to have their nominations accepted. New nominations Australia do not necessarily receive any priority.

It is however the case with the existing Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, key listing criteria includes Aboriginal heritage. With the High Court’s Franklin dam decision, primacy was given to the effect of the flooding of cultural sites over and above any other listed value (in the High Court’s rejection of the proposed dam).  So indeed World Heritage listing has been used in the past to successfully protect Aboriginal cultural heritage sites in this state.

However given the extremely slow rate in which new World Heritage nominations are processed and accepted (insisted upon government),  it is not likely to be of much use in protecting Aboriginal heritage sites effected by the Brighton Bypass.  Some other mechanism needs to be found.

I certainly would wish to see more Aboriginal and historic heritage sites better protected and conserved, both are important components of Tasmania’s heritage. It is not a case of preserving one and not the other.

10 August 2010


“The Federal Government must move immediately to resolve the dispute over the Brighton bypass and the presence of a significant Aboriginal heritage site by the Jordan River,” said Denison Independent candidate Andrew Wilkie.

“The State Government’s own report, by archaeologist Rob Paton released just last week, puts the age of the Jordan River levee site at 41,000 years and concludes the site should be protected. This fuels the understandable tension between those who rightly demand the site be protected, and those with legitimate concerns about the future of the much needed $164 million road improvement around Brighton. The resolution of the impasse would appear to be in the Federal Government moving quickly to protect the site, by adding it to the National Heritage List, and by funding a sensible adjustment of the plan for the road,” Mr Wilkie said.

“Such an intervention would protect the Jordan River levee site and allow for the Brighton bypass to proceed. At the same time the additional cost would go some way to rectifying the shocking imbalance in Federal infrastructure funding between northern and southern Tasmania. Just last week it was reported that more than 90 per cent of Federal road funding in the last 25 years had gone to the north of the state, leaving the non-northern electorates of Denison, Franklin and Lyons with increasingly neglected and dangerous roads,” said Mr Wilkie.

To discuss this matter Denison Independent candidate Andrew Wilkie will hold a media conference at the Jordan River levee site with Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Heritage Officer Aaron Everett today Tuesday 10 August at 11.00 am.

Authorised by Kate Burton 208 Elizabeth Street North Hobart 7000.

Mercury, Monday August 16:

Sacrificing artefacts for bypass

DAMIEN BROWN   |  August 16, 2010 12.01am

THE Tasmanian Aboriginal community says it will allow the destruction of indigenous artefacts if the State Government moves a controversial section of the $170 million Brighton Bypass just a few hundred metres.

But the Government says the relatively minor move will result in a budget blow-out costing millions and may also cause traffic to be slowed to 90km/h.

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre legal director Michael Mansell said yesterday he had looked at eight alternative realignments of the bypass that were examined in an effort to end an impasse over a part of the Jordan River levee site.

The site has been found to contain artefacts that are considered the oldest evidence of human habitation in the southern hemisphere, dating back more than 42,000 years.

Mr Mansell said the community believed four of the alternative sites were suitable and focused around the highway crossing the Jordan River at the existing Andrew St Bridge, a few hundred metres north of the planned route.

Andrew St is next to an existing rail bridge.

A Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources spokeswoman said the report found none of the eight alternatives were feasible and the department remained committed to a $12 million bridge over the levee.

The Government also plans to create a conservation zone to protect the levee area and hand its ownership to the Aboriginal community.

Mr Mansell said that as a trade-off, any new relics found in the path of the realigned highway would be discounted.

Full story HERE

Bush Telegraph:

Aboriginal heritage on trial
By Maria Tickle

Wednesday, 18/08/2010

Yesterday, two women took the Tasmanian Heritage Council to court in a bid to protect significant Aboriginal sites.

They are seeking to protect an archaeological site north of Hobart. Relics which may be 40,000 years old are threatened by a $164 million dollar bypass.

Aboriginal activist Michael Mansell says that Tasmania’s heritage laws fail to protect Aboriginal sites. The state’s heritage minister, David O’Byrne, says that he agrees that the legislation is outdated.

In this report: David O’Byrne, Tasmanian Heritage Minister; Michael Mansell, legal director of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.