Pubdate: Sun, 06 May 2001
Source: Sun-Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2001 John Fairfax Holdings Ltd
Author: Daniel Dasey
Bookmark: (Safe Injecting Rooms)


Australia's first sanctioned drug injecting centre faces a new legal 
challenge with Aboriginal people claiming it is situated inappropriately in 
a sacred area.

Indigenous elder and undertaker Allan Murray has filed a caveat with the 
Land Titles Office seeking to bar the injecting room from opening because 
it is close to an Aboriginal burial ground.

He argues the traditional Aboriginal inhabitants of the Kings Cross area 
have a right to veto the facility.

A similar caveat placed on a proposed drug rehabilitation centre in Redfern 
contributed to development on that project stalling a decade ago.

"All of Kings Cross is an ancient Aboriginal burial ground," Mr Murray said 

"It was chosen because it is on high land and there is no flooding.

"[To open the injecting room] is contrary to Aboriginal law and the spirit 
of reconciliation."

The move follows the State Government's gazetting legislation three weeks 
ago to allow the centre to operate from May 1.

Mr Murray and Kings Cross Aboriginal resident Gary Simon Jagamarra lodged 
the caveat with land title authorities on Friday.

They argue there was no proper consultation with Aboriginal custodians.

The Uniting Church, which has established the injecting room amid fierce 
controversy, has 21 days to respond to the Aboriginal claim.

Mr Murray said that if the church failed to respect the caveat he would 
take the matter to the NSW Supreme Court.

But the Reverend Harry Herbert, executive director of Uniting Care, said he 
was not troubled by the move and was confident the centre would be able to 

"It seems to me to be a somewhat odd claim," Mr Herbert said. "It doesn't 
seem to me to have any legal validity whatsoever."

Mr Herbert said he was puzzled that Mr Murray had not come forward with the 
claim earlier and why the caveat should apply to the injecting room and not 
nearby stripclubs.

"No-one has ever raised any matter vaguely like this," he said.

Mr Herbert declined to say when the injecting room would open. The church 
has said it does not want a flood of publicity on the first day.

Mr Murray has been involved in lodging a similar caveat on land at Callan 
Park, which he argues is the most significant Aboriginal site in inner Sydney.

In 1991 the Land and Environment Court refused to strike out a claim of 
ownership of a site in Redfern by an Aboriginal group with which Mr Murray 
was associated.

A proposal had been in place to establish a drug rehabilitation centre but 
Mr Murray said hundreds of Aborigines had been cremated on it.

Mr Murray said yesterday that he had objected to those premises on the 
grounds that the centre would have included a bar.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager