In an effort to heal the wounds of Tasmania’s bloody colonial conflict with its indigenous people, a proposal to transform an industrial area at Macquarie Port in Hobart, Tasmania into a cultural site for the state’s Aboriginal people has been made.
However, while the Lord Mayor of Hobart, Sue Hickey, welcomes the projects she has caused a stir by saying that there is a risk the city could become “guilt ridden” and that “she didn’t kill Aborigines”.
“I would like to see [the proposal] really thoroughly consulted with the community and with the Aboriginal community, because I wouldn’t like it to be tokenistic,” Hickey says.
She said that while the conflict between the indigenous population and Tasmania’s white settlers was unfortunate and wrong, it was not right to hold today’s Tasmanians to account.
“Whatever happened 200 years ago is really, really sad, but lots of atrocities have happened. People came away here in ships, torn away from their families for stealing a turnip,” she said.
“I didn’t kill the Aborigines, and nor would I; it was a different era.”
The state’s Aboriginal leaders condemned the Lord Mayor’s statement, stating that today’s society shared a “moral responsibility” to ensure the injustices of the past were remedied.
“To continue to focus on wars we fought overseas, while ignoring the campaigns that were waged in our own backyards prevents us having an honest relationship with our own history,” Tasmania Aboriginal writer Greg Lehman said in a statement.
The $2 billion includes an art park, a major fire and light installation dedicated to celebrating 40,000 years of continuous culture in Tasmania, and a Tasmania Aboriginal history centre.
Visitors will also have access to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), which is also located on the site of an Aboriginal midden.