Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Protesters Force Nexus to Halt Bypass Work Families Turn on Each Other over Land Issue

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Protesters Force Nexus to Halt Bypass Work Families Turn on Each Other over Land Issue

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlotte Lam charlotte.lam@ thechronicle.com.au

"LET me ask you: if someone wanted to take a bulldozer through an Anzac square or Buckingham Palace, what do you think the people of that country would be doing?

"Exactly what we're doing right here."

These were the words of Muran Gunggari, known as the message stick man, who is helping lead a protest against possible damage to an indigenous cultural site in Charlton.

In line with safety requirements, Nexus yesterday temporarily stopped works on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing as representatives from the Western Wakka Wakka indigenous group set up camp on the site off Holmes Rd. Some carried spears and boomerangs.

With no shelter, bedding and just a camp fire, the group is practising their culture until Nexus and the Department of Transport and Main Roads "go back to the drawing board."

The protest started on Monday night over concerns about a culturally-significant bora ring.

Nexus chief executive officer John Hagan said the company was seeking a peaceful and non-violent resolution.

"We understand emotions are high within the Western Wakka Wakka people, but under no circumstances will we condone the use of physical violence against any of our staff," he said.

"We are sensitive to the fact that the Western Wakka Wakka people have an emotional, cultural and spiritual connection to the land. However, we have not been able to substantiate any physical evidence of stone features, indicating a traditional bora ring site."

After an emergency meeting with executives on Tuesday 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.

"Out of respect of all parties, we lifted the design of the road near the alleged ring features to further minimise impacts on the sites in question," Mr Hagan said. …

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