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28 April 2021
SIR, – In reference to two comments attributed to a ‘government spokesperson’ in Dylan De Jong’s article in Highway Plans under Scrutiny, The Weekly Advertiser, April 15.
I represent the Djab Wurrung Traditional Owners who have succeeded three times in the Federal Court since 2019 to have decisions by the Federal Minister for the Environment quashed when she refused to protect the area and trees on a stretch of the Western Highway between Beaufort and Ararat.
It is incorrect for the government to claim the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation ‘represents the Djab Wurrung people and we continue to respect their cultural authority to speak for the Djab Wurrung country’.
My clients have repeatedly rejected that claim, in submissions to the courts.
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EMAC filed submissions in the current Supreme Court proceeding which rejected the claims of the Djab Wurrung Traditional Owners.
EMAC, along with VicRoads, withheld from the Minister for the Environment an extremely significant cultural-heritage report dated December 7, 2018 which was commissioned by EMAC with $27,000 provided by VicRoads.
These facts are stated in my sworn affidavit evidence to the Federal Court.
The government also misinformed your reporter about the safety issues.
An independent Transport Planner, William McDougall, has confirmed that of 176 crashes on the 109-kilometre stretch of the highway from Ballarat to Stawell – of which 88 crashes and 11 deaths occurred on the 62-kilometre already upgraded and duplicated section between Ballarat to Buangor – the 17-kilometre Beaufort to Ararat section had experienced 27 crashes and no fatalities in the past 10 years.
Michael I. Kennedy and Associates
The entire April 28, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser and AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!