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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Aboriginal healing farm approved

Mick Gentleman

Last night, Planning Minister Mick Gentleman upset a lot of people by approving a development application for the Ngunnawal Bush Healing Farm. 

The proposal for a bush healing centre for troubled Aboriginal people with drug and alcohol problems near Canberra, has local landholders furious - they bitterly opposed the move and believe it will attract "habitual criminals" to the area.

The Ngunnawal Elder's Council has been lobbying for the centre since 2002 but had a hard time convincing the locals there is nothing to fear.

Miowera was brought by the ACT government in 2008

The 900 acre farm, formerly called Miowera was bought by the ACT government in 2008 but the proposal has been plagued by angry appeals.

The healing centre, 8 kilometres west of Tuggeranong, will be centred around Aboriginal spirituality and culture and construction of several new buildings can now begin.

The ACT's Rural Landholder's Association and private landholders unsuccessfully appealed a change of lease ruling and claim there would be unacceptable environmental and social impacts if the centre went ahead.

Association President Tom Allen said "It's the visitors that will be the problem, they'll be leaving alcohol and drugs."  He stressed that the site was too far from police and hospitals and access to the farm is via a neighbouring property which would create security issues. 

"There is no such thing as a level playing field anymore" he said. "This is just Joh Bjelke-Petersen stuff."

Mr Gentleman, who has only been Planning Minister since July said the centre would be free of drugs and alcohol and was deliberately sited away from the "distractions of the city."

The approval requires a bridge crossing over a stream at Paddy's River Road to be strengthened to take 28 tonne trucks and a bushfire plan.