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CVC pleads guilty to scarred tree’s demise

Geoff Helisma | Clarence Valley Council (CVC) has confirmed that it has pled guilty to the removal of an Aboriginal scarred tree from the corner of Breimba and Dovedale streets, Grafton. It was reportedly removed by CVC staff in May 2016, following earlier reports that it was trimmed in July 2013, which resulted in the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) issuing a penalty notice in January 2014. According to the Department of Environment and Conservation NSW’s publication, ABORIGINAL scarred trees in New South Wales, A field manual, “Scarred trees are a highly significant expression of Aboriginal culture … and this is recognised through their protection as Aboriginal heritage sites….” The matter will go before the court in the coming months to outline the penalty, which is covered by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, and/or for other related matters. The maximum penalty for corporations that “harm or desecrate an Aboriginal object that the person knows is an Aboriginal object” is $1.1million. “In addition to a fine, a court can also impose a range of orders and alternative sentences,” the latest amendment to the act states. “These include publication orders, restoration and prevention orders, expenses and compensation orders, monetary benefits orders and investigation cost orders.” Clarence Valley Council said in an emailed statement that it “has entered a guilty plea, but will not make further comment while the matter is still before the court”.