An Indigenous burial ground in South Australia, potentially more than 6,000 years old, is believed to be among the state’s largest and most significant archaeological sites.
But it’s also the site of a planned $6 billion housing development, and although work has halted for now, the developer, Walker Corporation, is seeking permission to excavate, uncover, and, if necessary, remove any objects or ancestral remains to continue work.
Victoria’s first Aboriginal senator, Lidia Thorpe says the ancestral remains should be left alone, calling it an “act of genocide”.
“The disrespect that has been shown by the Labour government in SA, and the rest of the country, is a real insult to the original owners, who are hurting.
“It’s no different from what they’ve been doing to us over the past 250 years.”
Remains that have been dug up since were sent overseas for analysis but also were done without the consent of First Nations representatives or their families.
Under the state’s Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988, it is illegal to damage Aboriginal heritage without permission from the Aboriginal affairs minister.
Thorpe says no matter who the minister is, they’ve made “bad decisions” for Aboriginal people and are only acting in their political party’s best interest.
“It’s allowed to happen because governments think they can do what they like and trample over the rights of Indigenous people.
“We don’t have a human rights commission in this country, and this government will not implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“You’re killing a piece of us. You’re killing our mother country and there will be repercussions from our mother earth as there always is.”
Thorpe wants the development to stop and respect the wishes of the Kaurna people.
Voice referendum ‘racist’
Meanwhile, Thorpe has called the upcoming Voice referendum racist, as the country makes a decision whether to recognise the First Peoples this Saturday.
She says a report shows the number of suicides by Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples has risen since the referendum’s beginning.
That’s not to mention the multitude of wrongs that Aboriginal people have endured over the years from past Australian governments, which have yet to be corrected, she says.
“The referendum, to me, is also an act of genocide.
“It’s a complete division when we have 97% of this country deciding our destiny. That is racist, and that’s part of the oppression of our people.”