NORTH East MPs are urging the federal and Victorian governments to get on with the Wodonga rail bypass.
Member for Indi Sophie Mirabella and member for Benambra Bill Tilley say the Labor Party should act fast to overcome the latest hitch in the highly anticipated relocation.
Just one week after Victorian Premier John Brumby turned the first sod on the $130million project, a native title claim threatens the rail work.
The Dhudhuroa people have asked the federal Minister for Environment Peter Garrett to delay the works, which they say are likely to desecrate and deface six culturally significant sites, areas and objects.
A cultural heritage management plan revealed that only one of six culturally significant sites could be fully protected.
Mrs Mirabella said the Wodonga community had waited long enough
She called on Victorian Premier John Brumby to speak about the issue.
“They promised money years ago, we’ve waited,” she said.
“There have been excuses by the State Government for delays and delays, now there’s another delay and they’re not telling us what they’re planning to do about it.
“That’s disappointing to the people of Wodonga and just not good enough.
“I’m eagerly awaiting comment from the Premier.”
Mrs Mirabella said she would contact Mr Garrett to learn more about what the Dhudhuroa people had specifically asked of him.
She refused to comment on the native title claim without viewing the report or speaking with the parties involved.
“Obviously, for this matter to have not been dealt with so far, something must have gone wrong with the process,” she said.
Member for Benambra Bill Tilley also hoped the issue would be dealt with as a matter of priority to minimise any further delays in the project.
“Both federal and state Labor Governments, for the sake of this project and to address the heritage concerns of the Dhudhuroa people, need to expedite this and work though it proactively and very quickly .... to see the project continue while recognising and respecting the traditional landowners,” he said.
In a statement issued at 6.15pm yesterday, a Victorian Government spokesman said: “Work on this vital project is under way and the community will see clear progress over the coming months”.