The Toowoomba Second Range Crossing is one of the major government-funded projects in the region.
The Toowoomba Second Range Crossing is one of the major government-funded projects in the region. Contributed

11th-hour talks halt indigenous bypass protest

CRISIS negotiations stalled a possible Aboriginal protest about the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing route.

Executives from Toowoomba Second Range Crossing constructor Nexus and the Department of Transport and Main Roads rushed to Toowoomba yesterday afternoon to avert a crisis to the $1.6 bypass project.

Some members of the Western Wakka Wakka people had pledged to protest at two culturally significant sites in the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing corridor in a move that could halt works on the project.

They were concerned that the Department of Transport and Main Roads will damage  an alleged bora ring near Charlton and a signalling station in the Helidon Hills.

As frustrations about the negotiation process boiled over, members of the indigenous group prepared to bring bus loads of supporters from Toowoomba, Maryborough and Brisbane to the two sites.

Member of the group Chris Conlon said negotiations about the sites had broken down.

"We're bringing in a mob to set up camp," he said.

"We're not letting them (destroy these sites)."

>> Aboriginal protest to halt works on Toowoomba bypass

The rings as seen from Google Earth.Photo Contributed
The rings as seen from Google Earth.Photo Contributed Contributed

The department has previously said independent archaeology studies had shown there was no evidence for a bora ring or lookout at either of the sites.

After a meeting with executives yesterday afternoon Nexus came to the agreement that it would raise the elevation of the road at the location of the rings so that the road cutting would not affect the site.

A spokesman also promised further studies before demolition works would begin in Charlton, and that appears to have been completed - also finding no evidence.

"We have worked closely during the past 12 months with traditional owners to complete survey and mitigation works in preparation for the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing," he said.

"The Western Wakka Wakka people and the Jagera people are now working with the constructor Nexus to monitor clearing and grubbing operations and they will monitor early earthworks as the project proceeds.

"Nexus has considered the matters and taken on the views and is proceeding in accordance with the Cultural Heritage Management Agreement which is officially signed by representatives from the Western Wakka Wakka."

Is TMR dealing with the Western Wakka Wakka people's concerns sensitively?

This poll ended on 05 November 2016.

Current Results

Yes

65%

No

34%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.


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