The Guardian July 3, 2002


Vandals target Sandon picket

by Janice Hamilton

Two young men carrying a petrol can set alight the fly of a tent occupied 
by picketers at the Sandon Point picket recently. "Luckily the fire was 
doused pretty quickly with water", said Mr Brown, one of the occupants of 
the tent. Police were called but the two youths escaped by car.

Mr Hamish Brown, a longtime picketer, believes that the firebombing was 
linked to court action being taken by the community picket in connection 
with the development at Sandon Point.

Mr Brown was asleep when the attack occurred. An environmental lawyer was 
also present.

Picketers have written to Police Minister Michael Costa seeking assurances 
that the picket would be protected in the event of attack.

The controversial development at Sandon Point on the NSW South Coast was 
back in court last week. Community activists and indigenous groups sought 
an injunction in the NSW Land and Environment Court to have work on the 
site stopped. The Wadi Wadi Coomaditchie Aboriginal Co-operative took the 
action. More Indigenous artifacts have been found on the site.

Although the court action by the Wadi Wadi Coomaditchie Aboriginal Co-
operative was unsuccessful it strengthened the view, held in the community, 
that the court is nothing less than a ticket for environmental vandalism.

Unlike the developer, Stockland's, the Co-operative doesn't have the 
financial backing of US banks or the resources of current and former State 
Premiers.

Local residents and the South Coast Indigenous community have been in 
battle with the NSW State Government, Wollongong City Council and land 
developer Stocklands to save the Sandon Point area from a housing 
development big enough to form a new suburb.

They have maintained a 24-hour picket on the site for the last 12 months. 
Stocklands bought the land in question from BHP in the early '90s but did 
not announce their plans at that time and did not consult with the local 
community either.

While the injunction was being heard, members of the Kuradji Aboriginal 
Tent Embassy conducted a dramatic smoking ceremony across the street from 
the court. The ceremony was a protest against the destruction of the 
indigenous heritage at Sandon Point.

Although the pressure from the community is starting to influence the 
thinking of some politicians, the local member has become irate with local 
protestors who have voiced concern at the way in which the development has 
proceeded.

The local member has sent vicious letters and e-mails to anyone who 
questions his actions in relation to the development. He was the ALP Lord 
Mayor of the local Council when the development was approved.

The ALP and the Liberals seem to be the only two parties supporting the 
development. The Democrats who, until recently were silent on the issue 
have come out in support of the Wadi Wadi Coomaditchie Aboriginal Co-
operative with Senator Aden Ridgeway making a statement in parliament.

The seat of Keira, which encompasses Sandon Point, was previously a safe 
Labor seat, that is, until a well-known independent pushed the incumbent 
Lord Mayor to preferences in the last State election.

With the NSW Government refusing to deliver on its election policies and 
bowing to the interests of developers, the State seat is there for the 
taking at the next election.

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