The Victorian Greens will today introduce a motion in Victorian Parliament calling on the Andrews Labor Government to immediately cease works on the Western Highway project and ensure all Djab Wurrung sacred trees are protected.
It will also call for the removal of police from the site and for all public health fines to be rescinded.
Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell, said the government’s decision to fell a sacred tree was shocking and would destroy good faith the government had built with First Nations people throughout the Treaty process.
She also condemned the government’s force-heavy response and said no protestors should receive fines for safely protesting the destruction of First Nations heritage and culture.
While there has been a last-minute injunction to spare any more trees from being destroyed until tomorrow afternoon, the Greens believe that ultimately no sacred trees should be cut down for the sake of a highway that might save road users two minutes.
Greens Senator and Gunnai-Kurnai/Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe has been a long-time advocate for the Djab Wurrung sacred trees and earlier this week expressed feeling the pain of her ancestors over the government’s actions.
As stated by Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell MP:
“While Melburnians were celebrating the end of lockdown, the Andrews Labor Government used this moment to move in and cut down a sacred tree on Djab Wurrung country.
“It was a shocking and appalling act. How can this Andrews Government justify destroying ancient First Nations heritage and culture just to save motorists two minutes on the highway?
“We’re also deeply concerned that the Andrews Government has slapped protestors with $5,000 COVID fines for safely trying to protect these trees. It’s a total overreach of power and force, and these fines must be rescinded immediately.
“We’re introducing a motion to stop the Government from destroying any more sacred sites, and to rescind all fines for people protecting the trees.”