• Wiradjuri man Mark Saddler says he wants to see a more substantial fine for METKA EGN over the destruction of artefacts. (Facebook: Welcome to Country)Source: Facebook: Welcome to Country
The company, METKA EGN, began work on its solar farm site on Wiradjuri Country, north of Wagga Wagga, before receiving an Aboriginal heritage impact permit.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
1 Feb 2021 - 4:23 PM  UPDATED 1 Feb 2021 - 5:02 PM

A Wiradjuri man has equated a $1500 fine for the destruction of hundreds of artefacts at a solar farm development to racial discrimination.

Mark Saddler said between 200 to 250 stone tools were destroyed by UK-based company METKA EGN at their solar farm site, north of Wagga Wagga.

Mr Saddler said the site has been used for generations as a place to make stone tools and that a fine of $1500 was not enough to make up for what had been lost.

"What METKA have done is destroyed a Songline down here, they've broken a Songline and $1500 is no good," Mr Saddler told NITV News.

"I want to see a much more substantial fine."

The company had begun work before receiving an Aboriginal heritage impact permit in July 2020, according to a NSW Government investigation.

Mr Saddler said the small fine for METKA EGN is proof that Aboriginal history continues to be eradicated by government departments.

"It seems to me their focus is all around heritage around 100-year-old buildings and facades and cobblestone pathways and old fence lines," he said.

"They're beautiful and definitely part of our Australian history and should be protected (but) they seem to get priority over artefacts and scar trees that are sometimes thousands of years old."

"Why is it that they can only get a minor fine for destroying our cultural heritage? Why is it treated differently in this country than European and English cultural heritage?

"I class that as racial discrimination."

Mr Saddler said he'd like to see the fine money given back to the community that has been impacted by the destruction, through the building of a new cultural centre.

"I want to see a much more substantial fine and I want to know more about where that fine goes," he said.

"I want that to be put in some sort of bucket so we can organise ourselves down here and have a beautiful cultural centre.

"And that substantial fine will pay for that, which will tell people here on Wiradjuri Country that when you come here to work in Wiradjuri Country you must respect us like we respect you.

"You must understand that if you do something wrong with Aboriginal artefacts you will be heavily penalised. 

"If you don't know what they are, we are more than willing as Wiradjuri people to come out and help you to understand them and help you to save them." 

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