The Queanbeyan City Council (QCC) seems to be hell bent on doing its best to build a road, the Ellerton Drive Extension (EDE) that the community does not want.
At a recent community organised forum (24 August), over 70 members of the community gathered to discuss Queanbeyan Region Transport needs. These community members came from a variety of backgrounds and represented over 10 different community groups, including the Aboriginal community.
The consistent theme across all groups was concern over the poor approach that has been followed by the QCC in consulting with the community. In attendance was Mayor Tim Overall, who commented along the lines that the QCC did listen to the community and was committed to ensuring proper consultation on the EDE occurred.
Recent events call into question this commitment to genuinely consult with the community. On 19 September, the QCC published an Aboriginal Heritage notice for the EDE. This notice invites submissions from Aboriginal persons and organisations holding cultural knowledge relevant to the Queanbeyan Area.
This notice states submissions must be received within 14 days from the date of notice. This means that the notice was published on the last day of the NSW school term and that the time for consultation falls entirely over the school holiday period.
Fourteen days may be the required period for consultation but clearly it is not enough time for genuine community input. To make matters worse, setting the Aboriginal Heritage notice to start when people will be taking a break is just not good enough. QCC has been working on this proposed road project for five years yet it offers the community just 14 days to provide feedback on this particular element.
Once again, it is a clear example of the QCC deciding that it will do what it wants, when it wants. This is clearly a poor practice but it is particularly disrespectful of the Aboriginal community.