That work began clearing the site of the Djab Wurrung sacred trees near Ararat on September 11, is presumably a coincidence. That it occurred two days after a large protest in Melbourne over the matter presumably isn't.
The work is confined to branch- and ground-clearing at the moment, but it's a clear example of throat-clearing: this operation is intended to go ahead, come what may. It's an indication of where the Andrews government is coming from, and the contradictory and foreshadowing politics of this progressive "socialist Left" government.
That contradiction is something your correspondent has noted before: the Andrews government uses social progressivism -- often marginal and symbolic -- in order to cover a neoliberal agenda involving privatisation, anti-heritage moves, and a bias towards roads and cars. The Andrews government move is now a classic one-two: ban "gay conversion" therapy, for example, before announcing an increase in size and urban destruction of the North East Link.