HOW FAR WILL THIS BRIDGE
is banned from
being built for 25 years; a development company goes bankrupt; a
Federal politician loses his front bench seat; there are calls for
another to be sacked; Aborigines accuse each other of lying; some fear
being sung to death by Aboriginal medicine men; two government
inquiries are planned; and it's all due to "women's business" details
of which can't be publicised.
may cost $millions.
in the lengthy disputes of developers and conservationists over
the building of a 200-metre bridge linking Hindmarsh Island with the
banks of the River Murray south of Adelaide.
emerged that building of the bridge would threaten the fertility and
health of Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal women.
Robert Tickner, Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister, imposed a
25-year ban on building of the bridge.
reason was sealed
evidence apparently detailing that Ngarrindjeri women believed the
bridge would lower their fertility and health.
McLachlan, a federal
Liberal MP, had to resign when some of the sealed information came to
his office and a staff member photocopied it.
Court squashed the ban in February after an appeal by developers Tom
& Wendy Chapman but Mr Tickner is appealing against the decision.
19 claims emerged
that the "women's business" was a fabrication and that most of the
Ngarrindjeri women knew nothing about it and that men had invented it
to help conservationists stop the bridge.
to calls for Mr
Tickner's dismissal and talk by bankrupt developers of a $47 million
there will be a State
Government royal commission into the "women's business". A separate
Federal inquiry is planned by Mr Tickner for October.
support the fabrication claim now say that the opposing group is
arranging to have them sung to death.
spokesperson of the
Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement says that the royal commission into
cultural beliefs would offend the Racial Discrimination Act.
wants to nominate for the Skeptic Association's annual Bent Spoon
Award the Aboriginal Affairs Minister Robert Tickner "for
allowing the superstitious beliefs…to dictate government policy." (the
Skeptic Volume 15 No.2)
Spoon is awarded
to an outstanding promoter of what the Skeptics consider
attempt to bridge
the widening ripples of controversy is a statement by the Catholic
Church condemning the royal commission because it may inquire into
cultural and religious beliefs.
A PROBLEM NOT YET BRIDGED
building of the
Hindmarsh Island Bridge was banned in 1994 for 25 years due to
unspecified aboriginal "women's business". (Investigator 43)
the SA Royal
Commission ruled that the women's business was a fabrication.
further 6-month inquiry
by Federal Court judge Justice Jane Mathews advised that concerns about
desecration of aboriginal sites had "sufficient evidence". This cost
over $1 million but was ruled invalid by the High Court in September.
to calls for a
costs on inquiries
and court disputes have been estimated at $12 million which is almost
the estimated cost to build the bridge.
bridge was promised
by former SA Labor Government in 1990 to persuade a Westpac subsidiary
to keep a marina company going on Hindmarsh Island. The SA Brown
government said in 1994 it would have to pay Westpac at least $12
million if the bridge is not built.
came out of all this
is that the Heritage Protection Act of 1984 seems inadequate for
solving disputes involving the issue of secrecy.
latest phase is
dispute over the possibility of special legislation by the Federal
Government to exempt Hindmarsh Island from the Heritage Protection Act.
In 1995 Investigator
43 asked: "How Far Will This Bridge Go?"
answer is 290 metres.
In March 2001 the 140-year-old ferry service linking Hindmarsh Island
to the mainland of South Australia became defunct and the Hindmarsh
Island Bridge officially opened.
years the bridge
was a national scandal that pitted Aboriginals against Whites and
conservation against development. It led to costly court battles, a
Royal Commission and dragged in unions, anthropologists, religions, the
State Government and the Federal Government.
known as "Friends of Hindmarsh Island" had gained support from unions,
the Conservation Council, and Greenpeace. But the tide was still
against them and "Built Environs" was about to start work.
gained help from leaders of the Ngarrindjeri tribe. There were claims
of "secret women's business" and Aboriginal burial grounds. The State
Government tried to ignore this but the Federal Labor Government
imposed a 25-year ban on construction. Prospects for building the
bridge seemed sunk.
established in 1995 then found the Ngarrindjeri claims to be a
Bridge – first proposed in 1989 by developers Tom and Wendy Chapman –
is now boosting tourism and property values in the area.
$6.5million to build — but the legal disputes at least twice this
amount. (Investigator 43 & 51; Sunday Mail 2001 March 4)
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