• A road-widening project at tiralina (Eaglehawk Neck) has been halted following protests over its potential impact to a burial site. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
The Tasmanian Government is reviewing plans to widen the Arthur Highway at tiralina (Eaglehawk Neck) following protests over the project's potential impact on a burial site.
Keira Jenkins

12 Jan 2021 - 8:20 AM  UPDATED 12 Jan 2021 - 8:34 AM

Following an outcry from the Tasmanian Aboriginal community, the Tasmanian Government has halted a road-widening $3.75m project at tiralina.

The state government promised to meet with palawa community members to discuss cultural heritage concerns, including plans to dig near a burial site.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre's (TAC) Aboriginal rights campaigner Nala Mansell told NITV News she hopes to see the government's reviewed plans by February.

"It was unfortunate that we were forced to protest before the government even agreed to speak with the very people whose heritage they are making such big decisions over," said Ms Mansell.

"We do have a long history of distrust with the government. As much as we'd like to think they'll now come back and talk about how they can upgrade that road without desecrating our sacred site, we're not feeling too confident."

While the government met with concerned palawa community members, Ms Mansell said they had not agreed to withdraw a permit to go ahead with the road upgrade.

Ms Mansell is concerned that the state government does not understand the significance to palawa people of both the burial site, and tiralina in its entirety.

"There's still a complete lack of understanding, respect or appreciation for Aboriginal heritage here in lutruwita (Tasmania)," said Ms Mansell.

"We're explaining that it doesn't matter if our ancestors are buried over that side, there's a midden site over here.
"This is such a spiritual and ceremonial place where our people would have been born, they died here, they gathered here.

"This whole area is a sacred site. The whole area needs to be protected."

Ms Mansell also raised concerns about the Aboriginal Heritage Act's effectiveness in Tasmania to protect sacred sites across the state.

For real protection of sacred sites to occur, Ms Mansell said Aboriginal people must control Aboriginal heritage.

"We've been calling for a long time for the Aboriginal Heritage Act to either be scrapped or completely changed so Aboriginal people have some sort of control and some sort of ownership over our own heritage," she said.

"So that we're not left in these type of situations where we have to go out there and physically demand the government doesn't destroy our ancient Aboriginal heritage sites."

'Absolute mess': Calls for change to heritage legislation following protest at tiralina
Tasmanian Aboriginal Land Council chairman Michael Mansell says cultural heritage protection in Tasmania is an "absolute mess" following protests to stop a roadworks 'test-dig' at tiralina (Eaglehawk Neck).