Melbourne City Council has extended an olive branch to
Aboriginal activists who had been ordered to abandon their protest
camp in a city park or face forced eviction.
Camp Sovereignty was set up in Kings Domain on March 12 as a
protest against the Commonwealth Games, which camp organisers
dubbed the "StolenWealth Games".
Melbourne City Council and the State Government have until now
turned a blind eye to the camp, which breaches local by-laws that
prohibit camping and fires in public parks.
But yesterday the council issued camp organisers with a
compliance notice ordering them to vacate the site by 4pm
Melbourne City councillor David Wilson told theage.com.au that
campers will be invited to meet with Lord Mayor John So and
Victoria's Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings at 7pm
Cr Wilson said the meeting had been proposed by Mr Jennings
yesterday, but could not be held until tonight because the minister
was in Canberra today.
"My hope is that our 7pm meeting will come to a peaceful
resolution and that they will agree to move out,'' Mr Wilson
He said police could act to remove campers at any time from
But Victoria Police spokeswoman Karla Dennis said police would
await the outcome of tonight's meeting before moving to evict
Earlier today Camp Sovereignty spokesman Robbie Thorpe said the
group's lawyers would seek an injunction against the compliance
order and prepare an emergency declaration to protect the site
under Section 2 of the Commonwealth Heritage Legislation.
Mr Thorpe said an inspector was expected to sign off on the
declaration this morning and notice given to Gavin Jennings later
"The Melbourne City Council aren't landowners, so we're
wondering where the order (to disband) came from," Mr Thorpe
"There are some fundamental legal issues here which remain
He said he was willing to meet with John So and Gavin Jennings
tonight, but he would not leave Kings Domain unless the council
permitted a stone cultural centre to be erected in the park. He
also said the sacred healing fire — which has burned at the
camp since March 12 — must be left alone.
"What we would like to see is a stone house in the tradition of
Victoria's Aboriginal people, recognised as the oldest known
structure by man on the planet," Mr Thorpe said.
He said the foundations of stone houses had been found near the
Grampians, Warrnambool and Lake Condah in Victoria's West.
Mr Thorpe said the fire at the camp was sacred and should be
kept burning. "It's more than an eternal flame boxed in by
concrete. This is a sacred fire.
"There's a process to look after this fire. Aboriginal people
need to be trained to look after it and maintain it."
In response to Mr Thorpe's demands for a stone house to be
erected in Kings Domain, Mr Wilson said: "My comment is that it
would not be granted.''
Mr Wilson said that Melbourne City Council was more interested
in hearing directly from the traditional owners of the Kulin
nation. He said elders from Boonerwrung and Wurundjeri tribes had
also been invited to tonight's meeting.
"There are no tribal leaders at (Camp Sovereignty)," Mr Wilson
said. "Those at the camp are from elsewhere. We need to talk to
tribal leaders about what they want in Kings Domain, if they want
anything at all."
Earlier, Robbie Thorpe responded to criticism from Wurundjeri
elder Ian Hunter that Camp Sovereignty was a "disgrace'' and had
actually taken the Aboriginal people's cause a step backwards.
Mr Thorpe said Kings Domain was not Wurundjeri land, but a
traditional meeting place for Aboriginal people from many different
tribes. "The Wurundjeri are from up near Healesville,'' he
He said Boonerwrung elder Caroline Briggs had granted the
campers permission to set up their tents and light the sacred