• Bidjigal Elder Norma Simms and Greens MP David Shoebridge address the rally. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
An emergency application has been lodged to stop work on the site where thousands of Indigenous artefacts were uncovered during construction of the Sydney light rail amid concerns that it may be the site of a massacre.
By
Laura Murphy-Oates

Source:
NITV News
1 Apr 2016 - 8:17 PM  UPDATED 1 Apr 2016 - 8:17 PM

Greens MP David Shoebridge and Aboriginal community representatives have lodged an application under the federal 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act' to stop construction at the Randwick stabling yard site.

Almost 22,000 Indigenous artefacts, believed to be up to 3000 years old, have been discovered over the past few months during construction of the $2.1 billion dollar light rail project.

RELATED STORIES:
Randwick artefact site may be scene of 'massacre’, as protest calls for permanent protection
Cultural heritage experts have linked the uncovering of thousands of Indigenous artefacts to a massacre site and are calling for an immediate end of construction ahead of a rally on Friday.
Huge Indigenous artefacts find in Sydney: why is it so significant?
The discovery of more than 22,000 Indigenous artefacts on a construction site for Sydney’s Light Rail is the largest ever find of Indigenous artefacts in Sydney. Indigenous heritage museum curator Matt Poll explains its significance and what we should do about it.

Over 60 people turned up to a rally on Friday afternoon calling for construction to halt immediately.

One of the speakers was Bidjigal Elder Norma Simms from La Perouse she said :"I am 84-years-old and I'm still fighting for my Aboriginal rights - what no one wants to know, not even the politicians."

Mrs Simms called on the  Prime Minister to speak to her directly about the fight.

Speaking at the rally, Mr Shoebridge says he was asked to appeal to the federal government by the local Darug and Bidjigal Elders, as well as Indigenous heritage experts working on the site.

"This application has already gone to the Federal Minister Greg Hunt, and he has a statutory obligation to turn around consideration of that within a period of 60 days,” he says.

"Now of course it’s an urgent matter, and you would be expecting a far more urgent response from the minister.”

So far the site has unearthed spear tips, knife blades, scrapers, cutters and about 12 marriage stones, given to a man when he comes of age and gets married.

RELATED STORY:
Calls to stop work and preserve Randwick light rail site after discovery of Indigenous artefacts
Aboriginal groups vow to fight to preserve the largest ever find of Indigenous artefacts in Sydney.

But more significantly a key consultant in the project, Tocomwall’s director Danny Franks, believes objects such as speartips and Bondi tips indicate there was conflict.

The sheer quantity of speartips and blades suggests traditional owners were “manufacturing and going up in arms for a reason”, Mr Franks said.

“This leads us to suggest there was conflict here, which very well has a high probability of meaning there was death associated with this site.”

Construction company ALTRAC and NSW Transport told NITV that the 22, 000 artefacts were excavated, under the guidance of the four registered Aboriginal parties enlisted to advise on the project, and safely stored.

"An archaeological excavation took place on February 23-24, [2016], carried out by GML, La Perouse Aboriginal Land Council, Tocomwall and DACHA," says a spokesman for Transport NSW.

"That established a clear area within which the deposit of artefacts exists, allowing an agreed scope of work to continue, minimising risk to the artefacts."

Transport NSW also say that work in the area only recommenced once the Aboriginal groups had advised them how to proceed, with cultural heritage consultancy firm Tocomwall supervising the installation of temporary measures to allow work to continue nearby.

However Tocomwall CEO Scott Franks, says they were not on board with the removal of the artefacts, and the continuation of construction.

“At no stage did they suggest that the site could be left there,” he says.

“The registered Aboriginal parties have always supported keeping the site preserved.”

Furthermore, he refutes the claim by Transport NSW that the area of "Aboriginal historic interest" is less than 1 per cent of the overall site.

“This site would actually sit in its entirety on the construction,” he says.

“An Aboriginal site is not just the relics, but the surrounding area in its entirety that was used.”