A tipster suggested that if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull were concerned about indigenous issues, he should look into the impact the NBN might have on indigenous sites. A particularly difficult problem facing NBN is installing towers without damaging sacred indigenous sites. In Alice Springs, the company did extensive mapping of indigenous sites and has made the map available to other construction companies.

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Residents in the Towong Shire Council area in north-east Victoria have been fighting the installation of a tower in Bethanga since last year, with five people complaining about a tower on the usual NIMBY complaint grounds (it’ll ruin my view, it causes cancer, etc). NBN had assessed whether there were any places of cultural or heritage significance, and when the council issued a notice of a decision to grant a permit to build the tower, there were no registered Aboriginal items or places on site.

But before NBN could build the tower, the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria found a sacred Aboriginal tree close to the proposed tower location that has subsequently been registered as an Aboriginal place. Residents of Bethanga have taken a case to VCAT appealing the council’s decision to grant a tower permit.

NBN, however, has decided to seek an adjournment so it can consider options to build the tower without impacting Aboriginal heritage sites.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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