No government would consider the idea of bulldozing a road through the middle of a historical cultural building. The French government would never dream of toppling the Eiffel Tower, nor would the Australian government contemplate knocking down the Opera House.
Yet the Victorian and federal governments are planning to do just that when it comes to the Djab Wurrung people. They are seeking to widen the Western Highway just outside the regional city of Ararat and the route they have chosen goes straight through 800-year-old sacred trees, including birthing trees that 50 generations of Djab Wurrung women have used to give birth.
It is extraordinary that anyone could consider destroying something so sacred.
The governments’ plans to destroy this sacred landscape is just the latest example of the double standards in Australia, where First Nations sites are disregarded but settler sites are carefully preserved.
Numerous Aboriginal burial sites have been willfully destroyed by governments or developers that would never consider destroying a cemetery.
Meanwhile, the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners continue to campaign to protect their lands against Adani’s proposed coal mine in the Galilee Basin, in Central Queensland.
This hypocrisy is a result of institutionalised racism and corporate interests that intend to wipe away any impediment to profit-making.
In the early stage of Australia’s colonisation, racism was used to demonise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to justify genocide and land theft.
Today, racism is used to trivialise Aboriginal sacred sites and undermine public support for their protection.
It is important to challenge racist attitudes and build movements in solidarity with First Nations people.
But it is also important to acknowledge that the ruling class will continue to promote racism as it benefits their corporate interests.
To fully eliminate racism, we have to eliminate the system that profits from racism.
Green Left Weekly is committed to this struggle.
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