• Bidjigal man Assen Timbery. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
A stoush over the site where thousands of Aboriginal artefacts were discovered during the construction of the multibillion dollar Sydney light rail continues.
By
Laura Murphy-Oates

28 Apr 2016 - 4:19 PM  UPDATED 28 Apr 2016 - 4:19 PM

Bidjigal man Assen Timbery says that when four traditional owners along with Greens MP David Shoebridge, a heritage expert and an ABC television media crew arrived at the site shortly before at 8am on Thursday, they were told they could not enter the site because they did not have the proper personal protection equipment.

RELATED STORIES:
Sydney artefact site not ‘a significant Aboriginal area’, says Environment Minister
Key Aboriginal groups say they weren’t consulted over Minister Greg Hunt's decision to deny an emergency stop work order on the Sydney light rail where more than 20,000 Aboriginal artefacts have been found.
Artefact find prompts emergency heritage appeal to halt light rail construction
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.
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.

Mr Timbery also told NITV that an Aboriginal liaison officer was present, and a public order and riot squad van was parked nearby.

“You feel degraded ... you’re degraded, because you're trying to do something decent and good for your people, and you've got police standing there watching you - it just doesn’t make you feel good,” he says.

However, Transport for NSW say neither they, nor ALTRAC Light Rail [the public-private partnership consortium], “requested the police to attend the site this morning”.

NSW police have also confirmed that no police were called to the scene writing in statement: "The public riot order squad did not attend."

Mr Shoebridge says he gave notice of their intention to visit the site to Transport for NSW two days ago, and while he was advised that he and the media would not be allowed, he thought the traditional owners would be allowed on site.

Transport for NSW say Mr Shoebridge was made aware on Wednesday afternoon that the visit could “not be accommodated as staff were not available to perform safety inductions.”

Furthermore they requested that “the elders contact [them] directly to organise a tour.”

Wonnarua man Scott Franks is the project's cultural heritage consult, and he believes this latest action from Transport for NSW is a delaying tactic.

“The problem is whilst they're delaying this, they're destroying the site,” he says.

”They're just holding the process up until they extract the site- that’s all they're doing at the moment, tearing the site up, as once and the artefacts are removed the argument is dead.”

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.

While many of the artefacts have been excavated and safely stored, Mr Franks says there are thousands more in the surrounding area currently under construction.

The Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt denied a request for an emergency stop work order on the site earlier this week. Another application for federal heritage protection is ongoing.