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Traditional owners weigh in on Yamba cruise terminal proposal

NTSCORP recently replied to the above tweet on November 30. Image: Contributed

Geoff Helisma

The Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation has issued a media release in response to the NSW Government’s draft Future Transport 2056 strategy, which flags the possible construction of an international cruise ship terminal in Yamba. 

“The Yaegl People are concerned about the lack of consultation that has occurred with the Corporation and the potential damage that the proposal will cause to significant sites,” the media release states.

Two Federal Court of Australia decisions on June 25, 2015 and August 31, 2017 granted the Yaegl People native title rights over much of the land within their ‘traditional country’ and over their ‘sea country’, respectively.

“Any activities which may impact on the exercise of native title rights must be properly notified in accordance with the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and native title holders must be afforded certain procedural rights, including rights to comment, rights to be consulted and rights to negotiate,” the media release states.

The corporation’s chairperson, Billy Walker, said in the release: “The Corporation is responsible for ensuring that the Dirrungan [reef], one of Yaegl People’s most significant sites, at the mouth of the Clarence River is protected.

“There are also other sites of significance to the Yaegl People within the Clarence River, which would be damaged by the proposal.

“The recent Yaegl People’s native title determination over sea country included increased protections for the Dirrungan, including a 350 metre buffer zone to protect the Dirrungan from developments such as the cruise ship proposal.”

In October 2018, a small cruise ship, Caledonian Sky, will visit Yamba – it can carry up to 114 passengers, has a draft of 4.2 metres (less than the maximum 5 metres that can navigate the river dependant on tides), and is 90 metres long and 17 metres wide, according to www.fleetmon.com.

Where the ship might dock is not known at this time.

Meanwhile, at the November 21 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting, councillors debated the matter when considering CVC’s submission to the draft Future Transport 2056 strategy, for which submissions closed on December 1.

However, Cr Greg Clancy’s attempt to include a clause opposing the “development of a ‘cruise terminal’ for Yamba due to adverse practical, cultural, environmental and social impacts” in CVC’s submission to the draft strategy was only supported by councillors Peter Ellem and Debrah Novak.

Councillors made their decision without having been advised of any specific details that might be contained within CVC’s submission, due to the “timing of the exhibition period [which] precludes a detailed submission being presented” to councillors, staff advised.

The future transport strategy was launched on Monday October 23.

Staff recommended that CVC lodge a submission stating it is “supportive of infrastructure initiatives and improvements which promote sustainable economic and environmental development and support the growth and well-being of local communities and business”.

Making particular reference to the potential development of a cruise terminal in Yamba, staff also recommended for inclusion in the submission that it “should be of an appropriate scale pertaining to the boutique port and sensitive to the local Aboriginal cultural beliefs”.

However, following lengthy debate and as a result of an amendment put by Cr Richie Williamson, councillors resolved to submit: “Clarence Valley Council requests further consultation and engagement with Council and the broader community for those projects within the Future Transport 2056 Plan which are identified for investigation.”

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