Threats by a government contracted security guard to violently move the Djab Wurrung Embassy off their camp site have been caught on tape by a supporter of the protestors.
Speaking with NITV News, the supporter – who has asked to remain anonymous– said she was standing out the front of a supermarket in the regional town of Beaufort last week when another woman approached her and struck up a conversation about the ongoing protest against the Western Highway upgrade.
The woman was wearing a security lanyard and identified herself as a contractor for VicRoads on the Djab Wurrung site between Ararat and Buangor.
When the conversation veered towards violent threats and racist and transphobic beliefs, the supporter began to record it onto her phone. The recording has since been posted to the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy Facebook page.
"We're just not allowed to do anything physical. If they hit us, then game on, but until then... and they're really pushing the buttons," the woman can be heard saying in the recording.
Other remarks made by the alleged security guard that were recorded include:
- "We said to them, we can get them off, not a problem. But 'ohhh, you can't touch them!'"
- "Yeah we've all done martial arts, they'll get a big shock."
- "I wanted to go BANG! in his throat, this transvestite, because he was right in my face."
- "He pretended to pee on me. And we're not allowed to do nothing."
Shock and disbelief
The woman recording the conversation told NITV News she was shocked by what she heard.
“I was in complete disbelief of how open this woman was and how aggressive her speech was towards me,” said the supporter.
“There were a few things that were said [prior to recording], like ‘we’re just going to cut them down anyway’ and I think that was the prompter for me to start recording.”
In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) said that its investigation had confirmed the person heard in the recording was a sub-contractor working on the project.
"MRPV deplores the views expressed in the audio recording and we will not tolerate racism," it said in the statement.
"The well-being and safety of the community, as well as staff, contractors and sub-contractors, is paramount."
The recording comes a week after hundreds of people rallied on the steps of Victoria's parliament calling for an inquiry into the processes which gave a green light to clearing the planned highway upgrade route.
Meanwhile, three formally recognised Victorian Aboriginal representative bodies, including the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation who signed off on the project, have requested the state government resolve settlement negotiations and respect the integrity of their cultural assessments.
Currently major work on the upgrade has been halted along the 12.5 kilometre stretch between Ararat and Buangor. Mediation between the affected parties is expected to take place on Wednesday.
NITV News has sought further comment from Major Road Projects Victoria after it confirmed on Tuesday that it was investigating the matter.