A decision by the South Australian Government to extend the consultation period for the Riverlea Park housing development until late November has been met with backlash by Traditional Owners.
Members of the Kaurna community say South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Kyam Maher is breaching his legislative obligation to consult with Traditional Owners and interested Aboriginal parties before making decisions that affect Aboriginal cultural heritage.
Initially, the housing development of 12 000 homes was brought to a standstill in July after the discovery of ancestral remains on a burial ground at the site before resuming soon after.
According to SA government’s ‘Have Your Say’ website, Walker Buckland Parks Development has expanded its original application to include three additional areas of land within its existing development approval.
The Wire contacted Attorney General of South Australia and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Kyam Maher’s Office and received the following response from a spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation:
There has been extensive consultation with the Kaurna Community and other stakeholders throughout this process. This included a formal state-government consultation meeting, as well as a Kaurna Community meeting arranged by the Native Title holder, KYAC, also attended by the state government. Both of these meetings had record attendance in the context of other Aboriginal Heritage Act consultations. In addition to public notices and website content, AAR also wrote directly to over 160 Kaurna Community members and other interested Aboriginal parties.
Given both the amendments to the developer’s application and the extensive community interest in this project – the decision was taken to extend the consultation period until Friday 24 November 2023.
As of the new consult close date, AAR’s consultation will have been open for more than four months. Submission responses received to date are amongst the highest number received for any consultation process carried out by AAR.
AAR recognises the sensitivity and significant interest in this matter, and acknowledges community members’ requests for additional meetings, including with the Minister. However, consistent with well-established principles of procedural fairness, it is AAR that carries out consultation on behalf of the Minister. This approach ensures that the Minister, as the ultimate decision-maker, receives all relevant information pertaining to an application at the same time, to help inform his decision when he makes it.
Should community members wish to clarify any matters or seek further information, AAR staff remain available to assist and to help consultees lodge submissions, including by taking verbal submissions. The Kaurna Community can rest assured that every submission received will be fully considered by the Minister when deciding the matter.
If there are other members of the Kaurna Community, or other interested Aboriginal parties, who have not yet made their views known, AAR strongly encourages them to make a submission before 24 November 2023