FIGHTING FINANCES: Traditional owners struggle with suspension to Newstart payments
FIGHTING FINANCES: Traditional owners struggle with suspension to Newstart payments Rob Williams

Protester: 'The government should pay me to protect my land'

TRADITIONAL owners occupying land at the Deebing Creek Mission site in a bid to protect it from development say they're doing it tough financially.

One woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, says she is struggling to make ends meet, with her Newstart payments constantly being suspended while she's volunteering her time taking care of the mission site.

READ THE ORIGINAL STORY HERE: Full time protestor booted off the dole

She said her payments were suspended four times in one month and was recently asked to work for the dole.

"I said I refuse to work for the dole, while I'm out here working for my people and protecting the land," she said.

"I'm already working, even though I'm working for my people.

"I'm also working for the Government, because the Government has taken this land.

"I'm a hundred per cent, have my word, I won't work for the dole or work for the Government unless they hand back what is sacred to me and that's the mission."

The group has camped out on the grounds since January, leaving their own lives behind to protect the former mission and heritage site.

"I do this voluntarily, I don't ask for anything and they refused to accept that," she said.

"Every day I'm out here.

"I'm a meet and greet, I'm a caretaker, I'm a cook, I'm a cleaner, I'm a tour guide. You name it, I'm out here doing it.

"We're looking after the wildlife out here. They said you have to be 60 or 65 and over to get the volunteering work."

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Minister Michaelia Cash said the Federal Government's focus was to get people off welfare and into work.

"The Government invests in Newstart because we believe in Australians' inherent drive to provide for themselves and their families, and to assist people looking for work," she said.

"Taxpayers should not be expected to subsidise the protests of others. Protesting is not, and never will be, an exemption from a recipient's mutual obligation to look for a job."

The woman said she was working to protect something sacred to the traditional owners of the land.

"How dare she say that to one of the descendants of the First Nation people. I'm still walking the footsteps of my ancestors."

The financial fight comes as another new development application for a 725-lot subdivision at the site was lodged with the council a month ago.