Robert Williams v Rodney John Graham & Others, Cedar Point Quarry

November 2016

Gidubul Elder Robert Williams, represented by EDO NSW, is seeking to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage from being destroyed by works at the Cedar Point Quarry near Kyogle, in northern NSW.

On 29 November 2016 the Land and Environment Court decided that works could proceed at the quarry without obtaining an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit. Read the judgment.

Mr Williams is concerned that development at the Cedar Point Quarry site will harm a sacred site that contains part of a men’s ceremonial site, including burial grounds and areas where tools were made.

Under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 it is an offence to harm Aboriginal objects without an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit issued by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. 

The quarry was approved in 2012, but no Permit has been granted. Mr Williams’s evidence sets out his traditional knowledge and belief that the quarry site contains sacred Aboriginal areas and objects. The quarry company has begun preparatory works and our client is concerned that the significant sites have been affected.

On 7 September 2016, we filed proceedings in the Land and Environment Court on behalf of Mr Williams asking the court to stop works at the quarry. The Court granted an injunction, ordering work to stop at the quarry until judgment. The Court also ordered the quarry company and land owners to allow Mr Williams and an expert archaeologist to access the quarry site to carry out an inspection, and made special orders restricting access to gender-sensitive evidence about the site. The matter was heard in the Land and Environment Court on Monday 14 November 2016.

We are grateful to barristers Craig Leggat SC, Trent March, Nick Eastman and Damian Beaufils for their assistance in this matter.

EDO NSW is committed to using our expertise, professionalism and deep commitment to assist and stand with our Aboriginal clients as they protect and promote their Country, culture and heritage through law.

Links

Judgment