school display by Kathy Bell and Doug Nicholls
school display by Kathy Bell and Doug Nicholls

As listed in the development proposal, the Scanlon brothers (and any prospective developer) have a responsibility to consult with the local community, prepare a series of environmental impact reports, and pay special attention to consultations with the Aboriginal custodians of this Country.

In standard terms, this means publishing information about the proposal through the South Australian Government Gazette, adverts in local papers, a process of public consultation and open submissions, and meetings with the Aboriginal custodians. If the development were then to be approved, there must be an Aboriginal representative present during digging to ensure that if any Aboriginal artefacts are discovered that digging stop immediately so that they are not disturbed.

Unfortunately, the consultation process is frequently tokenistic, with meetings often called, paid for by the developers, which result in negative feedback. These meetings tick the necessary ‘consultation’ box, but in fact the feedback received is subsequently ignored.

In many cases when a proposal has been given the go ahead and digging has started, labourers are told to ‘cover up’ any Aboriginal artefacts (including ancestral remains) because revealing these finds would result in building work having to stop causing significant cost and time delays to the developers.

A local campaigner attended the Community Consultation Event and reported the following in her submission against the development:

“I was in disbelief that the developers did not have answers to detail or information on how they were going to build the fairways in the dunes and no details on how they were going to control erosion, runoff of nutrients into the wetlands and surrounding bushland and chemical drift from their vineyards and greens. I expressed my concerns and asked about the process of building the golf greens and freeway. I was told that they would be 40m wide by approx. 150-200m long with golfing and maintenance access tracks linking these, with no trials to see the best approach for this sensitive coastal strip. It would take a long time for the grass to establish and this is too great a risk. Look hard at how vulnerable and exposed these large areas are going to be, dune instability is a major problem and feature in this area. The risks associated with this seems extreme to high danger for damage with sand blowing away and exposing heritage sites and losing critical and significant dune habitat. These details are important and I would not want this Major Development to be given the go ahead in such a sensitive location.”

Despite the open submissions process having ended in March 2016, no responses to submissions have yet been provided and the environmental impact reports still lack suitably detailed answers to questions posed by the community.

Our campaign aims both to stop the threat of this unnecessary development, and raise awareness about the widespread use of ‘tokenistic consultations’.