WOMEN’S BUSINESS: Some of the supporters of The Awakabal Butterfly Cave who attended Monday night’s extraordinary council meeting. AN extraordinary meeting of Lake Macquarie City Council saw a full-house in the gallery as supporters of the Awabakal Women’s Butterfly Cave converged to make their presence felt on Monday night.
The meeting was called to deal with a rescission motion lodged by Cr Kevin Baker. The motion, if passed, would have seen the council withdraw its support for an application lodged by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) to further protect the Butterfly Cave, located at West Wallsend.
At the June meeting of council it was resolved that Mayor Kay Fraser would write to the Department of Environment and Energy to express support for the NSWALCapplication.
NSWALC lodged the application on behalf of the Awabakal Local Land Council asking the Minister for Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, to protect the Butterfly Cave, under Section 10 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.
In 2013, The Butterfly Cave was declared an Aboriginal Placein recognition of the site’s cultural, social and historical significance. It is located on land owned by the Roche Group, which is currently under staged residential development.
NSWALC argued“potential injury or desecration is associated with the proposed subdivision and residential development of Appletree Grove Estate – Stage 7 and Stage 9”.
NSWALC isrequesting the Appletree Grove Estate development be set back a significantly further distance from the cave than the currently approved 20m.
In speaking in favour of his motion, Cr Baker said the council needed to demonstrate it was “unbiased.”
The development was not approved by the council, but by the Hunter Central Coast Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP). However, council will be required to approve the construction management plan for stages 7 and 9.
“I believe as a consent authority for the construction certificate, I think it is entirely inappropriate for us as a council to be taking a position for or against,” Cr Baker said.
Speaking against the motion, Acting Mayor Wendy Harrison said council had no power to revoke a development consent once it hadbeen approved by a JRPP. However,there were occasions when elected representatives should “explore other options.”
“I believe this is one of those occasions,” she said.
Councillors Barney Langford and Brian Adamthwaite also spoke against the motion.
When put to the vote the rescission motion failed to fly, with only three councillors voting in favour of it.
The decision was met with a round of applause from the gallery.