As a supporter of the North Lismore Plateau Protection Association (NLPPA), I am gobsmacked that the new Lismore Council is considering stopping the ‘handback’ process of the 32 hectares of land on the southern end of the Plateau.
As you may be aware, the previous Council, led by Cr Vanessa Ekins, voted almost unanimously to ‘handback’ land containing a number of registered sacred sites. This matter is now in the hands of the Native Title Authority. The ‘handback’ is in process.
The NLPPA’s desire is for this process to continue uninterrupted. There are many in our community, both First Nation and non-aboriginal, who were overjoyed at the prospect of our ancient Aboriginal heritage being saved from development.
Part of the ‘handback’ land is a large old Quarry site. The quarry closed in the 70s – that’s over 40 years ago. It looks like nothing has been done in all that time to remediate and make safe the area. Now, with the Hand Back possibility, the Council is in a panic on how to come up with the funding for this unsafe area. My guess is the logic goes like this: if we sell off the residential zoned sites around the quarry, we can pay for the remediation works (including surveys, signs and fencing) within the quarry area.
So, could the Council’s idea be to create a suburb on three sides of the quarry and surrounds? That was the original plan taking almost half of the handback land. In this way, they may hope to raise funds to deal with the old quarry. There would be new homes, kids, dogs, cats, cars and the inevitable noise and light pollution right next to sensitive environmental areas with Aboriginal heritage values. Watch those incredible places lose their specialness.
As Uncle Mickey has quoted to me many times ‘How do you keep something sacred? Leave. It. Alone.’
The tears of joy on the faces of Elders at the historic handback Council meeting in July are gone. I encourage our community to email Councillors with a few lines. It’s easy to send an email on the Council website. Please go to: lismore.nsw.gov.au/your-councillors-at-work-information. For more information, go to: facebook.com/North-Lismore-Plateau-Protection-Group.