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.