Sandon Point Community Picket & SPATE
Media release – 23 June 2004

Embassy and Picket won’t cut and run

The decision about when the Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy (SPATE) and the Community Picket should go will not be made by Council, say Sandon Point campaigners. Although Council officers will put a proposal to councillors on Monday night to remove the two protest camps, both are adamant that they will remain, for ‘as long as it takes.’

'This is the Illawarra's proudest example of reconciliation in action - in the face of adversity - meeting on sacred ground to protect its significance and natural values,’ SPATE leader Roy Kennedy said today.

‘We would not have to hold a watching brief if Council and the State government did their jobs,’ spokeswoman Jill Walker said. ‘We came here three years ago to defend Sandon Point's unique natural and heritage values. We're still doing that, because Council, National Parks, and other government agencies won't. Why do they have no regard for the environment and the community?’

Mr Kennedy will hold talks this week with ongoing Tent Embassies at Canberra and Victoria Park, Sydney, on issues of the legitimate rights of Aboriginal Embassies.

‘Aboriginal people were not visible in this city until the Sandon Point protest. ‘ Mr Kennedy said. ‘These actions highlight our concern about our heritage. We have an inherent right to be here.’

'The cause is a long way from lost,' Ms Walker said, ' The Commission of Inquiry's recommendations must not be compromised, although Minister Knowles is sitting on them - and we know Council officers are pressuring the Department of Planning to ignore them.’

Ms Walker said the Commission recommended further studies of the site’s 6,000 year old Aboriginal heritage before any further development is allowed on the remaining three quarters of the site. ‘In the meantime,’ she said, ‘The water ponds overflow, poisoning the wetlands and flooding the bike track - but Council doesn’t care. We obviously have a very important monitoring role here.’

Community representatives hope to present their case to Council on Monday night.