POint of view: Protesters outside the council chambers in Mullumbimby focus on Aboriginal sovereignty and the right to be consulted over the Woolworths store being built in Station Street.
POint of view: Protesters outside the council chambers in Mullumbimby focus on Aboriginal sovereignty and the right to be consulted over the Woolworths store being built in Station Street. Digby Hildreth

Mullumbimby tent city protest

A TENT city is growing outside Byron Shire Council chambers in Mullumbimby, combining indigenous issues and many locals’ antagonism to the Woolworths store being built in nearby Station Street.

More than 20 people were gathered at the site last night, playing music, flying the Aboriginal flag and cooking food on a fire.

The ‘sovereign originals and their mob’, who call themselves Now Dreaming, are drawing attention to the fact that the traditional owners of the land had not been consulted, said spokesman Kamally Monsell.

The excavations on the Woolworths site had occurred without leave from the relevant owners, he said.

“We believe there has been a failure in the authorities’ duty of care to the original landowners,” Mr Monsell said. “We were not consulted under the Cultural Heritage Act, and we should have been,” he said

His message to the people of the area was ‘don’t let the government pull the Woolies over your eyes’.

The 72-hour gathering in Stan Robinson Park was not a protest, Mr Monsell said, and not a land claim.

“We are not activists. This is a gathering. We are asserting our original sovereignty, with love,” Mr Monsell said.

Woolworths’ corporate decision was ‘not feasible for us’, and was based on purely commercial concerns.

“But you can’t eat money. It doesn’t make sense to be pushed around by the almighty dollar,” Mr Monsell said.

Woolworths was ‘illiterate about this land’, he said, but the issue was also about the wider community and everyone was welcome to join them.

The Mullumbimby Community Action Network, who have led the protest against the retailer, were fully supportive of the gathering.

“We’re in alignment with the feelings of the indigenous people,” said co-ordinator Deborah Lilly.

“They’ve been done over by the state, and we’ve been done over by the state,” Ms Lilly said.



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