The idea of dumping nuclear waste material on Aboriginal land is being resisted, and rightly so.
The question unanswered in the ABC Radio piece below is which local and foreign companies would financially benefit from this if it moves forward. I’m investigating:
TONY EASTLEY: Plans to build a national nuclear waste facility in a remote part of the Northern Territory have been further delayed.
A Commonwealth facility is needed to store waste from Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor and discarded nuclear medicines used in hospitals around the country.
As well, the Federal Government is under pressure to build the facility in time to receive spent nuclear fuel rods sent from overseas.
But a Federal Court legal challenge by a group of traditional Aboriginal owners of Muckaty Station, north of Tennant Creek, has left the multi-million dollar project in limbo.
Michael Coggan reports from Darwin.
(Kylie Sambo rap starts)
“Let’s begin our story now. Don’t waste the Territory. This land means a lot to me. Been livin’ here for centuries. This place we call Mukaty”
MICHAEL COGGAN: Rap singer Kylie Sambo is part of a group of Aboriginal people from the Tennant Creek region fighting a campaign against the proposed construction of a national nuclear waste facility at Muckaty Station.
“.. by the dealings. They been hurting my feelings. I’m a Gurramurra (phonetic), and I should have my say”
MICHAEL COGGAN: The campaigners are opposed to a Federal Government proposal to build the nuclear waste dump on a ten-hectare site on the Muckaty Land Trust.
The Land Trust is overseen by the Northern Land Council.
But a large group of Aboriginal traditional owners of the Land Trust say the NLC failed to consult them as part of the agreement to build the waste dump and they’ve launched a Federal Court challenge.
The court case was listed for a mention this week, but all parties have now agreed to go to mediation.
George Newhouse is the lawyer representing the challengers.
GEORGE NEWHOUSE: It looks as though the parties will be mediating and then the result of that mediation will come back to the Court before the 31st of January next year.
MICHAEL COGGAN: The NLC won’t comment on the mediation, but referred the ABC to their submission to the Senate inquiry into the Labor Government’s new Radioactive Waste Management Bill.
The submission said: The Land Council supported the Ngapa Clan traditional owners who overwhelmingly support the nomination of their country for the Commonwealth’s waste facility.
It also said during consultations in 2006 and 2007 the NLC established substantial support for the waste facility from neighbouring Aboriginal groups on Muckaty Station, with only a few individuals in other groups expressing concerns.
But George Newhouse says his clients have been encouraged by the move to mediation.
GEORGE NEWHOUSE: Well I’ve just come back from Tennant Creek and I can tell you that the clients that we spoke to in Tennant Creek were incredibly pleased that the NLC is mediating this matter with them.
Up until this point they had felt disenfranchised and dispossessed by the process and this is a positive step in their minds.
MICHAEL COGGAN: The Federal Government wants to build a facility before 2014 in time to receive spent nuclear fuel rods from Scotland and France containing Australian uranium.
The Federal Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, didn’t want to comment on the case under mediation but in a statement he repeated a commitment to respect the Court’s decision on who the lawful traditional owners of the nominated site are.