Aboriginal concern over Seaford rail plan

14th April 2010 ABC News

Kaurna women protest against the Seaford rail extension, which they say will damage sacred sitesKaurna women protest against the Seaford rail ext

The traditional owners of Adelaide's southern suburbs have met the new South Australian Aboriginal Affairs Minister to discuss their concerns for significant Aboriginal sites which would be affected by the Seaford rail extension.

The Transport Department applied under the Aboriginal Heritage Act last September to disturb the sites as part of the $300 million rail project.

Now the Kaurna people have met Minister Grace Portolesi to urge her to reject the application.

She is waiting on advice from the Aboriginal Heritage Committee.

"I do intend to proceed with as much as much respect for culture and history and heritage, but there will be times when we disagree," she said.

"There is no doubt that the buck stops with me and I'll be making a decision over the next few days about it."

Onkaparinga Council says the rail electrification will boost transport-oriented development in Adelaide's south.

Kaurna threat to sue over rail extension

Sarah Garveis Southern Times Messenger 6th April 2010

Kaurna women protest against the Seaford rail extension, which they say will damage sacred sites.

The Kaurna National Cultural Heritage Association will take legal action against the State Government if approval is given for ancient Aboriginal sites to be destroyed to make way for the Seaford rail extension.

The association says a 1.2km rail bridge over the Onkaparinga River a vital part of the $291 million project will damage sites more than 30,000 years old, including an ancient women’s camp.

Chairwoman Lynette Crocker told the Southern Times Messenger last week the Kaurna traditional owners had advised the Transport Department they were not authorised to damage any Aboriginal sites along the rail corridor.

She said the association would take legal action if works proceeded.

“Obviously, the best option would be to renegotiate an alternative,” Ms Crocker said. “We just want this put right people should see what they’re doing is a mistake and try to rectify it. That’s what reconciliation is all about.”

Under Section 23 of the State Aboriginal Heritage Act, the Transport Department has applied to the Aboriginal Affairs Minister for approval to disturb Aboriginal sites, objects or remains along the rail corridor.

“We’ve been trying to register the Onkaparinga River (Ngankiparringa) as a sacred site but they’re treating us like the enemy,” Ms Crocker said.

“We’re talking about major, major sites and whether they’re registered or not they still have that significant heritage.”

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Grace Portolesi said the State Aboriginal Heritage Committee met to discuss the issue on Friday, March 26. “I have been advised that I will be receiving their advice soon and will then consider it before taking any further steps,” she said.

Early works on the 5.5km extension have already begun, with the first sod turned at the site of the Goldsmith Drv road bridge last month.

Major design and construction works, including the rail bridge, are expected to start in September and train services to Seaford will be operating by 2013.