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AustraliaProtesters march back police at sacred site but warn fight not over

04:15  20 march  2019
04:15  20 march  2019 Source:   9news.com.au

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Protesters clashing with police as roadworks begin on a controversial freeway duplication in Indigenous protesters protecting a number of sacred trees close to Victoria’s Western Highway have won a The land's traditional owners are now fighting to have an emergency declaration application

Protesters march back police at sacred site but warn fight not over . Indigenous protesters protecting a number of sacred trees close to Victoria’s Western Highway have won a moment of reprieve after police sent to remove them were marched back .

Protesters march back police at sacred site but warn fight not over© PR IMAGE More than 150 people joined the protest and put their bodies on the line to stop work. Indigenous protesters protecting a number of sacred trees close to Victoria’s Western Highway have won a moment of reprieve after police sent to remove them were marched back.

An almost year-long dispute came to a head yesterday as plans were made to bring in machinery and start works on the Western Highway duplication.

“Major Roads Victoria have indicated they will start work again on Monday,” former Greens MP and Gunnai-Kurnai Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe told 9News.com.au.

“But we will not let this happen. We have donations rolling in from big business.”

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Protesters march back police at sacred site but warn fight not over . Indigenous protesters protecting a number of sacred trees close to Victoria’s Western Highway have won a moment of reprieve after police sent to remove them were marched back .

Protesters march back police at sacred site but warn fight not over . Indigenous protesters protecting a number of sacred trees close to Victoria’s Western Highway have won a moment of reprieve after police sent to remove them were marched back . indigenous10:40am Mar 20, 2019.

Djab Wurrung Elders claim the current plan will knock down trees of historical significance to Aboriginal people, including birthing trees.

“We believe they've agreed to saving two trees, out of the many trees and that's why work would have started today,” Ms Thorpe said yesterday.

The land's traditional owners are now fighting to have an emergency declaration application approved by federal Environment Minister Melissa Price.

Protesters march back police at sacred site but warn fight not over© AAP Senior Traditional Owner Sandra Onus said after news spread that police were moving in to break up a community blockade at the site.

Two applications for emergency declarations have been made in the past 24 hours, under Section 9 and 18 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.

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Police arrived at the demonstration site early and warned protesters to leave the tourist district of Tsim Sha Tsui, opposite the British In the last few days, protests have not been as large or violent as previous demonstrations, but smaller "flash mob" protests have remained a near-daily phenomenon.

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The application under Section 9 seeks “the preservation or protection of a specified area from injury or desecration” and requires the minister to make a decision about whether the trees are significant to Aboriginal people, - but this may come too late.

Lawyers supporting the Djab Wurrung protectors have also submitted an application for an emergency declaration under Section 18 of the Act, which could buy the traditional owners up to 48 hours while the minister makes a decision in relation to Section 9.

“These trees hold our ancestors,” Nifty Kirk said at the Djab Wurrung Embassy.

“As long as it takes, I’m more than happy how I am.”

Protesters march back police at sacred site but warn fight not over© PR IMAGE Protesters clashing with police as roadworks begin on a controversial freeway duplication in country Victoria.

Program Director of Major Road Projects Victoria Tim Price said in a statement sent to 9News.com.au: "Safety is our number one priority as we get back to work on the Western Highway project.

"We’ve been working with Victoria Police to facilitate safe access to the worksite to establish our site compound, however, based on the advice of police we were unable to safely access the worksite today.

"We’ll continue to work with Victoria Police to establish our site and commence works as soon as it’s safe to do so."

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