Robbins Island could soon become protected under federal law as an area of significant Aboriginal Heritage.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley has advertised a notice of application for the protection of Robbins Island, the Boullanger Bay wetlands and Robbins Island passage.
Global energy company UPC Renewables has been eyeing off the island for a windfarm, prompting Burnie’s Malcolm Stokes to make the application to the Commonwealth to call for the long-term preservation of the area.
Mr Stokes argued the area was significant for a range of reasons including being the birthplace of Aboriginal warrior Tunnerminnerwait, as well as its modern value as a site for learning cultural practices.
“I made this application on behalf of the aboriginal people,” Mr Stokes, a truwulway man, said.
“I was looking into the windfarm project on Robbins Island and I know it’s a very special place, and Boullanger Bay really should be Ramsar listed.”
Aboriginal Land Council chairman Michael Mansell said the Aboriginal community was “overjoyed” by the news the Commonwealth was considering the site, and would be making a representation.
“Ooh yes, we’ll definitely make a submission,” he said, enthusiastically.
“It’s a real opportunity for us to address all of the issues that are ignored. The state did an Aboriginal survey that consisted of walking around for a couple of days.
“This here gives us the opportunity to go to an independent body.”
He said there were records of burials on the Island, and that the last time Aboriginal people had lived on the island was about 200 years ago before they were rounded up by George Augustus Robinson.
UPC/AC Renewables said the company was aware if the application, and would also make a representation.
“UPC\AC will provide factual details into the assessment in relation the project, the cultural heritage investigations and our engagement with community,” they said.
Both Mr Mansell and Mr Stokes said they were not convinced by the company’s Aboriginal heritage assessments of the area, dismissing it as a “two-day walkover”.
However, UPC has maintained it has undertaken “detailed cultural heritage investigations on the site”, much of which is currently an operating beef cattle farm.
They said the report had been provided to Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania.
“We have engaged and will continue to engage with Circular Head Aboriginal representatives in relation to the project and how it may assist their aspirations for the recognition, protection and management of their cultural heritage in the area,” the spokesperson said.
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