Victory against development giant

January 19, 2005

Nicole Hilder, Wollongong

Residential developer Stockland Development was found guilty on December 16 of disregarding planning rules after dumping thousands of tonnes of landfill on top of a sacred Aboriginal site at Sandon Point in northern Wollongong.

The Sandon Point housing project has been underway since January 2002, when the National Parks and Wildlife Service approved the destruction of Aboriginal relics to build a 428-lot housing development.

Allan Carriage, an elder of the Wadi Wadi Nation, took Stockland to the Land and Environment Court after NSW government agencies responsible for planning laws refused to hold the company accountable. Stockland was ordered to pay legal costs for Carriage after the court found that it had made a "substantial" breach of development conditions.

Stockland is backed by global law firm Baker & McKenzie, whose global income for the 2004 financial year was US$1.228 billion. After a two-and-a-half-year legal battle they were shot down by Carriage's counsel Alan Oshlack, from the Voluntary Indigenous Advocacy Group, who does not have a law degree.

Greens NSW parliamentarian Ian Cohen said on December 17: "This is a great win for Allan and the Sandon Point community, who have been actively opposed to the development of this area of unique cultural and natural heritage. Allan Carriage is a true Australian, he has fought to uphold the law and protect our heritage."

Stockland factored five years of legal wrangling with community activists into costs for the housing project. It is now attempting to have Carriage declared bankrupt. If this is successful, he will be prevented from pursuing any further litigation.

On March 3 the community picket will enter its fifth year — the world's longest-running continuous picket, according to the January 5 Sydney Morning Herald. Carriage said the area was part of a 4000-year-old burial and tool-making site. "As long as I have breath I will continue the struggle to save Sandon Point", he declared.

From Green Left Weekly, January 19, 2005.
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