• Jack Ward

Contractors are ‘beginning to destroy the site’

Updated: Mar 29

The Djab Wurrung Embassy issued a ‘Red Alert’ this morning, stating that Major Road Projects Victoria have begun cutting down trees between their middle and top camps, destroying the land.

Those camping at the site were notified on August 8 that construction would soon begin and were asked to vacate the site within 14 days which only intensified their stance.

PHOTO: Elizabeth Jabornik (Facebook)

“We have all the necessary cultural and heritage permissions to work on this urgently needed safety upgrade and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” a Major Road Projects Victoria spokesperson said.

“Early works have been underway for several weeks across the 12.5km alignment. We’re continuing to install fencing, establish a site compound and complete surveying work.”

MRPV says vigorous planning has been undertaken over several years, including a full independent Environment Effects Statement process.

In February, the Victorian Government agreed to alter the duplications plans after concerns were raised about two trees. Further design decisions were made to protect a total of 15 trees significant to members of the Aboriginal community

PHOTO: Elizabeth Jabornik (Facebook)

Indigenous organisation Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation then said that the Djab Wurrung people have secured the cultural outcomes they were looking for and that the “trees are now protected, and the road can go ahead.”

This view was not replicated by those at the Djab Wurrung Embassy, who rejected Eastern Maar’s statement: insisting that they do not share the same view as the Djab Wurrung people.

Today, the presence of MRPV, contractors, security and police intensified at the site as initial works continues. Victoria Police says that due to operational reasons they won’t comment on any possible investigations.

PHOTO: Elizabeth Jabornik (Facebook)

“Victoria Police does not have an ongoing presence at the protest site, which is on land owned by Major Roads Project Victoria,” a spokesperson said.

“Should a report be made to police regarding an offence of trespass or any other offence, police will investigate and take appropriate action in accordance with the law.”

“Due to operational reasons, Victoria Police will not be commenting about any potential investigation which would be undertaken at the discretion of the land-owner.”

“Victoria Police respects the right for people to protest peacefully, but will not tolerate those who break the law or engage in anti-social behaviour or violence.”

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