Government must order archaeological dig for artefacts in Beeliar Wetlands

Greens South Metropolitan MLC Lynn MacLaren MLC says the Government should use the opportunity of delay arising from the court decision to invalidate environmental approval of Roe 8 to order an expert archaeological investigation for Aboriginal artefacts in the proposed road’s development area. 

“There are six registered or formerly registered Aboriginal sites within the Roe 8 project area, of which at least two are extremely significant, and yet these have not been properly investigated or recognised by the Government,” Ms MacLaren said. 

“We have evidence of how the oldest continuous culture on Earth lived right under our nose, it is not only significant to our State’s heritage, it’s globally significant. 

“A significant archaeological site on the northern bank of Bibra Lake known as DAA 4107 was removed off the Aboriginal Sites Register in 2015 following a cursory examination by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, whose investigation consisted of two officers walking over the site and digging one 20 centimetre-deep hole. 

“The same site previously had more than 2,000 artefacts scattered over the surface, including stone tools made of chert, quartz and glass – in other words, demonstrating continuous occupation by Australia’s First People over at least 5,000 years, which is older than the Pyramids in Egypt and all of western civilization. 

“Archaeologists agree that DAA 4107 is highly likely to contain more artefacts underground, so at the very least, the Government should commission a proper archaeological excavation and salvage and record these subsurface artefacts. 

“It is interesting to compare how the Health Department ordered a full archaeological investigation and excavation in the Fiona Stanley Hospital development site, just 4 kilometres away. Artefacts resulting from that work now form part of a hospital welcome display written by Traditional Owners and I understand that patients will be able to learn about the artefacts and area’s heritage via the hospital’s in-house patient entertainment system. 

“If the Barnett Government wants to demonstrate a shred of credibility in relation to protecting our State’s ancient and enduring heritage then it should commission qualified archaeologists to conduct excavations in the Roe 8 project area now. 

“However, even if this is done, the fact remains that Roe 8, if built, would cut between North and Bibra lakes, which together make up a significant registered ethnographic site known as DAA 3709 that the majority of Traditional Owners surveyed for Main Roads say should not be disturbed.

"It was on the basis of the ethnographic site that the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee originally recommended that Main Roads’ application to disturb sites in the path of Roe 8 be declined, and the Government is yet to adequately explain why the ACMC’s original recommendation was not followed.”