Kumarangk defenders take next step
By Alice Davies
ADELAIDE — The campaign against the bridge to Hindmarsh Island (Kumarangk) in South Australia won an important victory on September 3 when High Court Chief Justice Brennan agreed to refer a challenge to the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Act to a hearing of the full court.
In May, the federal government was able to pass the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Act with the support of the Labor Party. This removed the right of the Ngarrindjeri people to make applications under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act for the protection of significant sites, and allowed the SA government to allow the bridge construction to proceed.
Despite saying, earlier this year, that it was unlikely that the state government would build the bridge while High Court action was being undertaken, the state attorney general has now stated that the government will update tenders for the bridge and consider beginning construction.
The legal challenge to the bridge act is being brought on the grounds that the federal government, under the constitution, only has the power to legislate for the benefit of Aboriginal people, not to their detriment. Brennan indicated that it would take until next year before the full bench of the High Court could hear the challenge to the act.