Multiplex may withdraw from Swan Brewery development
By Sarah Harris and Anthony Benbow
PERTH — A loud and colourful protest by 50 people on the morning of November 17 at the Swan Brewery site showed that the struggle for the sacred site of the Rainbow Serpent Dreaming is far from over, despite reports in the West Australian.
Multiplex, the government-backed developer, rushed a handful of workers onto the site early on November 12 after the West Australian reported the company was curiously in no hurry to act on preliminary approvals received a week before. The eight workers who attended the site were backed by 40 police and private security guards, complete with horses and dogs.
Work on the site had stopped pending legal hearings, causing the picket to be scaled down. But it seems police considered a line of five people threatening enough to warrant such a mobilisation.
A barrister opposing the development, Stephen Churches, has been forced to withdraw his services after he was reported to the barristers' board for talking directly to people at the brewery site, instead of through a solicitor, while court cases were proceeding.
As they have yet to be granted a full building licence, Multiplex is doing only repair work, and has been ordered to install deep sewerage instead of septic tanks. It is rumoured the company is trying to sell its development rights because of the delays and increased costs caused by the protest.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission has provided finance to help challenge Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Judith Watson in court. Spokesperson Robert Bropho said that Watson has given priority to the "heritage" value of the old brewery buildings over the religious and cultural aspects of the sacred site. The group also wishes to challenge federal Aboriginal Affairs minister Robert Tickner over his reluctance to treat the brewery struggle seriously.
The picket continues daily beginning at 7am, with a mobilisation every Tuesday when possible. Further information is available on the Brewery Hotline, 0055 26057. n