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The Victorian Ombudsman is investigating an Andrews government decision to forge ahead with a multimillion-dollar highway upgrade that has sparked a string of court battles and ongoing protests over the bulldozing of sacred Aboriginal trees.
Investigators visited sites along the Western Highway in December last year after fielding a wave of complaints since August about a 12.5-kilometre duplication project removing thousands of trees, including centuries-old natives.
A series of court cases waged by the Djab Wurrung people and private landowners have significantly delayed works between Beaufort and Buangor, while hundreds of activists have flocked to support the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy — a campsite set up next to the highway by traditional owners nearly two years ago.
But the Andrews government has vowed it would go ahead with the $672 million project, arguing it would save lives on the dangerous truck route.
That decision will now be probed by the Victorian Ombudsman, "with particular regard to concerns raised about protection of sacred Aboriginal sites," a statement from the watchdog said.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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