AN Aboriginal elder has said a rival indigenous group endorsing the quarry on Chiltern’s Skeleton Hill was a group of “blow-ins” with no knowledge of local custom.
The claim comes at the same time Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jeanette Powell called for an investigation into the original cultural heritage management plan that was submitted by international cement maker Holcim as part of the planning process and signed off by the Yorta Yorta people.
But Wally Cooper said the Yorta Yorta were not the traditional custodians.
The Pangerang man said it was a failure of the Victorian system that allowed the group to claim ownership.
“Just because the state government says they are the registered party for the area does not mean it is their land,” he said.
“They don’t know the history of the area. They are blow-ins.
“They certainly should not be claiming to be the authority on other people’s land.”
Mr Cooper said his and other Aboriginal ancestors were buried in mortuary trees on the hill.
But he believed that heritage would be lost through ignorance, if the mine was allowed to go ahead.
This week Ms Powell called for Aboriginal Affairs Victoria to resume its audit of the Yorta Yorta plan.
It has been on hold awaiting the outcome of a legal challenge to its validity.
That challenge was dismissed by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
A spokesman for the minister said the study was restarted on Monday.
“We have 30 days to complete the audit and there is more field work done,” he said.
Mr Cooper believed an article published in The Border Mail or the Albury Banner in the 1950s or 60s could hold the key to protecting the hill.
“It was a story related to a burial tree that was blown over in a freak storm,” he said.