Aboriginal stone site feared wrecked


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Landowners and an Aboriginal tribesman say they fear a Queensland coal seam gas company has destroyed parts of a sacred stone site west of Brisbane. 

Cattle farmers Rob and Sharon Lohse say parts of the ancient Aboriginal stone arrangements have vanished with Queensland Gas Company’s development of the Sean 12 gas well at Kogan, near Dalby. 

The well is on a property known as Kerrsdale, adjacent to the Lohses’s property Kia-Ora.
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Mr Lohse told AAP the couple considered themselves to be guardians of the sacred site since they bought their property 15 years ago. 

He said 25 per cent of the sacred site overlapped Kerrsdale, a claim that Queensland Gas Company denies. 

Two of the stone configurations appear to have been destroyed by the gas development, he said. 

“They haven’t followed the correct procedure,” Mr Lohse said. 

“They went in and cleared a few acres, put a road in … there were two stone arrangements there, and we haven’t been able to find them. 

“I was out there with (Aboriginal tribesman) Neil Stanley. We walked the area and we couldn’t find them.” 

Mr Stanley, a Barunggam tribe member, told AAP the site was a place for initiation and secret men’s business. 

“They’ve cut a 3000-year-old tradition … where the boy becomes a man,” he said. 

“I’m just shaking my head … my eyes just water.” 

He said Barunggam people dealing with Queensland Gas Company were not properly protecting the heritage site. 

Archaeology consultant Michael Strong, who inspected the site in 2000, told AAP it could possibly be thousands of years old. 

The sacred site had been fenced off from cattle for nearly 100 years and was very well cared for by the Lohses, Mr Strong said. 

“When you walk into the paddock you’re seeing the vegetation Aboriginal people would have seen traditionally, that has been lost or virtually wiped out … since European settlement. 

“You’ve got ecology that’s quite crucial.” 

Mr Strong saidit would be “appalling” if the site had been damaged. 

“Cultural sites are protected in Queensland, there’s a … $750,000 fine for destroying them knowingly,” he said. 

Mr Strong said he knew of cases where companies were happy to pay the fine and continue with their mining efforts. 

“It’s a very cynical approach,” he said, adding he was not attributing blame in this case. 

The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM), Queensland Gas Company, concerned landowners and Mr Stanley met in early March to discuss the stone arrangements. 

Neighbour Bill Anderson said state government departments were rubber-stamping gas companies’ paperwork. 

“The gas companies have a green light to do whatever they want, and the government is acting as the department to smooth the way for them,” he said. 

Queensland Gas Company spokesman Ben Myers denied there was a sacred site on the Kerrsdale property. 

“We’ve had the local traditional owners give full clearance and a archaeologist visit the site,” he said. 

“We’ve done everything by the book.” 

Mr Myers said the company was following all proper procedures and had not broken the laws. 

He said Mr Stanley did not represent the Barunggam people in a legal sense. 

“He’s decided to take the position he has. It’s really a matter for the Barunggam people,” he said. 

“The process is written in law, it’s the process everyone else has used. 

“We’ve followed it to the letter.” 

Comment has been sought from DERM. 

Author: Lisa Martin | Source: Brisbane Times [March 25, 2011]



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