Monday night’s decision by Singleton Councillors, at an extraordinary meeting, to vote to consent to close Wallaby Scrub Road may be welcomed by many in the community.
No doubt workers, contractors and the Chinese company Yancoal who own Mount Thorley Warkworth open cut coal mine, will be extremely please that now its full steam ahead for the expansion of their mining operation.
A little 6 kilometre road was holding up the development of this behemoth of a mine – yes a mine that was approved to expand closer to Bulga but it has to traverse through land, once set aside, in perpetuity for protecting that historic village from the impact that is felt living cheek and jowl with a open cut.
Wallaby Scrub Road was also to be protected – its part of our heritage built by convicts in the 1830s and it plays a vital role in linking our community.
However, all but two Councillors, Val Scott and Tony McNamara, thought it was better to close and sell off the road to a foreign owned coal company to quote Chris Searle who delivered a speech at the meeting.
He said this move will see the village of Bulga reduced to a sad footnote in history.
Mr Searle provided the Councillors with sound advice before their vote suggesting it was probably in everyone’s best interest to defer a decision until further legal opinion from Government solicitors was made available to them.
But no, like the bulldozers of Yancoal, it was full steam ahead for Singleton Council. They may argue its about jobs but we have seen, all too often, that like the rain they disappear with a change of climate in the coal industry.
Sadly we would not be faced with this problem if the State Government had stuck to the 2003 agreement to protect this land. An agreement held binding by the highest Court in NSW.
Law should be respected as should heritage, in particular our Indigenous heritage. In addition to ignoring Chris Searle Councillors ignored the pleas of local Aboriginal elder Kevin Taggart.
Kevin and his sister Patricia Hansson went through the indignity of being arrested and charged to protect this road. The charges were thrown out of Court. Now all their pain of that arrest will be in vain when the road is closed.