“You know you feel gutted when they want to bring the nuke agenda back on,” she said. “The place has already been contaminated.
Maralinga could be flagged as nuclear dump site, opponent says in wake of SA royal commission, ABC News, 28 Feb 15 By Wendy Glamocak Less than four months after land used for nuclear testing in the 1950s was officially handed back to its traditional owners in full, nuclear is back on the agenda at Maralinga in South Australia.
Most of Maralinga’s 103,000 square kilometre lands were handed back to the Maralinga-Tjuarutja people in the 1980s, and in 2009, a 3,000 square kilometre site known as Section 400 that had been heavily contaminated by radiation and hazardous chemicals, was also handed back.
In November last year, the Defence Department officially gave the Maralinga-Tjarutja full control and unrestricted access to the lands.
Those connected to the land are worried that a newNuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission announced recently by Premier Jay Weatherill will see the land flagged as a potential site for a nuclear waste dump.
Karina Lester is the daughter of Yammi Lester, a man who said he was blinded by atomic tests on the site half a century ago. She said her grandmother was part of the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA who fought against the Howard Government’s plans in 1988 to build a national radioactive waste dump near Woomera.
After strong opposition from the local community, and from former SA premier Mike Rann, who won a High Court challenge against the proposal, the plan was abandoned in 2004.
Ms Lester said many custodians of the land were worried that the royal commission set up by Mr Weatherill meant they would soon have another fight on their hands.
“You know you feel gutted when they want to bring the nuke agenda back on,” she said. “The place has already been contaminated.
“Traditional owners are trying to move on from what happened back in the ’50s, but to perhaps propose that it’s a site for the waste, I think, is just another kick in the guts to the traditional owners up there at Maralinga-Tjaratja.
Language difficulties could ‘stand in the way’
Ms Lester said many traditional owners will want to make a submission to the royal commission but she was worried language difficulties would stand in their way.
The Premier’s office did not respond to ABC questions on Ms Lester’s concerns……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-28/maralinga-could-be-flagged-as-nuclear-dump-site-opponents-say/6270848
I’m hoping you will support us with this very important issue which has arisen from SA Goverenment regarding a Royal Commission into Nuclear Energy and proposal to store high-level nuclear waste at Maralinga, South Australia
Please read. With thanks, Yami Lester, Yankunytjatjara Walatinna Station, South Australia (08) 8670 5077
Statement on Royal Commission into Nuclear Energy and proposal to store high-level nuclear waste at Maralinga, South Australia:
In 1953 I was just ten years old when the bombs went off at Emu and Maralinga, I
didn’t know anything about nuclear issues back then, none of us knew what was happening. I got sick, and went blind from the fallout from those tests, and lot of our people got sick and died also.
Now I’m 73 years old and I know about nuclear issues, and I have some friends who know about nuclear waste, and they will fight the South Australian Government on their plans to put high-level nuclear waste at Maralinga and to develop nuclear energy in South Australia.
Why does the government keep bringing back nuclear issues when we know the problems last forever?
The Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia (1984-85) revealed
what happened at Maralinga but it never told what happened to Aboriginal people; the findings were left open.Lawyers proved that there was radiation fallout over Walatinna, but because wenever had any doctors records to document what happened to us, (the closest clinic was Ernabella, 160km away as the crow flys and we didn’t have any transport to get there), we only had our stories and they were never written down.
A few years ago they cleaned up Maralinga from the waste that was leftover from the bomb tests; they spent $1 million, and now they’re going to put more waste back there?
That’s not fair because it’s Anangu land and they won’t be able to use that land.
Members from the APY, Maralinga-Tjarutja and Arabunna, Kokatha lands say we don’t want nuclear waste on our land.
The best thing the government can do is the leave the uranium in the ground, stop mining it.
We ask the South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, to talk to Aboriginal people on the lands, and to everyone who has been directly affected by the atomic tests and nuclear industry in Australia before he makes any decisions for South Australia.
One media narrative, as espoused in the AFR, is that this defeat was the result of a revolt by SA politicians. But this version of the story ignores the powerful campaign led by the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, the senior aboriginal women’s council of Coober Pedy.
This story has been recorded by movement researchers Nina Brown and Sam Sowerwine and in a book, Talking Straight Out: Stories from the Irati Wanti Campaign.
Many members of the Kunga-Tjuta were survivors of the British government’s atomic testing in the 1950s and 60s, and so understood the devastating history of the nuclear industry. Upon hearing about the waste dump proposal, the group issued this statement:
We are the Aboriginal Women. Yankunytjatjara, Antikarinya and Kokatha. We know the country. The poison the Government is talking about will poison the land. We say, “No radioactive dump in our ngura – in our country. It’s strictly poison, we don’t want it.
The traditional residents of this supposedly “benign and sparsely populated geology” fought hard to protect their country using the tools they had available. They explained, demanded, marched and sang. They worked with green activists and wrote passionate letters. They urged politicians to “get your ears out of your pockets”. They won.
As South Australia faces another push from the nuclear industry, we would do well to remind ourselves of these stories. To paraphrase the late historian Howard Zinn, we need to emphasise what is possible by remembering those moments in our recent history when people demonstrated their capacity to resist, come together, and occasionally, to win.http://theconversation.com/south-australias-broad-brush-nuclear-review-is-meant-to-sideline-opponents-38110
Aboriginal people driven from their land Green Left, Friday, February 20, 2015 By Emma Murphy “…………..It is now eight years since the Howard Coalition government launched its appalling intervention into NT Aboriginal Communities — the NT Emergency Response package. While the intervention may seem like old news, it continues to be raised as an example of the increasing neoliberal offensive against Aboriginal people’s right to their own land, identity, and self-determination.
History certainly did not stop in 2007 when the intervention started. Aspects of the intervention, such as income management and increased police presence, have continued and there have been many more attacks as well, not just in the NT, but across the country.
The intervention and policies banning bilingual education and undermining NT homelands, were really about launching an attack on Aboriginal identity and culture. They were about undermining a way of life that really isn’t compatible with capitalism; a way of life that involved collective property rights and aspirations other than home ownership and careers. It is a way of life that embraces multilingualism, sustainability and quite often strong opposition to the extractive resource industry.
Many of the policies in the NT were seen, in one way or another, as forcing Aboriginal people off their land, whether to free up resource-rich land for the extractive industries or to push remote Aboriginal people into larger, more “viable” service hubs.
Right now in Western Australia, Aboriginal people living in remote communities are facing a similar disastrous social experiment. The Barnett government has foreshadowed the closure of more than 100 remote communities. Continue reading
Australia Needs New Approaches to Fracking http://firstpeoples.org/wp/australia-needs-new-approaches-to-fracking/ Fracking in Australia continues to meet widespread resistance from Aboriginals. In Western Australia, Buru Energy’s negotiations with traditional landowners in the Canning Basin have been largely unsuccessful, and communities are organizing camp outs to stop the company. In Queensland, the weakening of environmental protections has prompted the Mithaka Peoples to go the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, claiming that “Australia has taken no action to ensure that we are consulted and involved in these decisions, or to protect our rights to our culture.” In the Northern Territory, communities have formed the Northern Territory Frack Free Alliance to oppose the drilling of boreholes and wells near aquifers.
The Australian government is attempting to circumvent these groups with legislative and regulatory changes. While this may accelerate the issuance of permits in the short term, Australia cannot expect to develop a sustainable oil economy without Aboriginal support, and will need to drastically shift its approaches to fracking on Aboriginal territories.
This post is excerpted from First Peoples Worldwide’s Corporate Monitor, a monthly report on key trends affecting companies interacting with Indigenous Peoples. To sign up for monthly e-mail updates, click here.
Jeffrey Lee’s Koongarra – where love for land trumps love for money, Crikey,
BOB GOSFORD | FEB 16, 2015 “I have said no to uranium mining at Koongarra because I believe that the land and my cultural beliefs are more important than mining and money. Money come THE words projected on a big screen at the final plenary session of the World Parks Congress in Sydney late last year said it all: “I could be a rich man today. Billions of dollars … You know, you can offer me anything, but my land is a cultural land,” read the script accompanying an image of Jeffrey Lee on his land at Koongarra which is now incorporated into the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park.
Jeffrey Lee, the senior Traditional Owner of the Djok clan, speaks for the 12,000 hectares of land which used to comprise the former Koongarra Project Area. It contains an estimated 12,000 tonnes of high grade uranium which the French nuclear and mining company, Areva, has long been trying to access and develop.
Mr Lee told thousands of delegates to the World Parks Congress of his decision to gift the land at Koongarra to the World Heritage estate, rather than reap a fortune in royalties if it had been mined for uranium. And he told them of his modest request to the Australian Government for help to build a house on his country.
Alas, it seems that the Government is not prepared to reciprocate his generosity……..
“I don’t want the Government to forget me. They came to visit me; they congratulated me on my hard work and said they will support me in this. The Government knows how hard I worked, they gave me an Order of Australia and I’m happy for that. Now I just want a commitment from them for a house so I can live on that country that I fought for.”
Jeffrey Lee was granted an Order of Australia award in January 2012.
The citation said: “For service to conservation and the environment in the Northern Territory, particularly through advocacy roles for the inclusion of the Djok Gundjeihmi country as a World Heritage area within Kakadu National Park.”
Land Rights News asked the Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, whether he was considering assistance for Mr Lee to build an outstation on his country. The reply, from his Parliamentary Secretary, Simon Birmingham, was far from positive…… “Unfortunately, there is no Australian Government funding available to construct an outstation at Koongarra, but we are helping where we can……..http://blogs.crikey.com.au/northern/2015/02/16/jeffrey-lees-koongarra-where-love-for-land-trumps-love-for-money/
Colin Barnett turned down invitation to meet Aboriginal land councils, Guardian, Calla Wahlquist, 20 Feb 15
Councils called meeting with WA premier because they had received no offer of consultation over plans to pull funding from remote Aboriginal communities The Western Australian premier, Colin Barnett, turned down an invitation to meet Aboriginal land councils about a government proposal to close up to 150 of the state’s remote communities, one day before telling parliament he would consult Aboriginal people closely. Continue reading
The remote communities are mainly located across the northern tip of Australia and the Kimberley in the country’s northwest. The federal government announced late last year that it would stop paying for the utilities, making states responsible for the communities. The Western Australia (WA) state government says it can’t afford to cover the costs.
Rodney Dillon, an indigenous advisor at Amnesty International Australia, told VICE News that some members of the indigenous communities might not survive a move.
“It would be a complete culture shock, a complete mental shock,” Dillon said. “This is their homeland. It’s where they belong it’s where they are proud. They are the keepers of the land. Some might stay and die on the land. The older individuals won’t manage it — it might kill them.”……..
Initial hopes of establishing a $1 billion “Royalties for Regions” fund, which would have used 25 percent of the state’s mining royalties to cover the cost of power and water for the communities, were quashed this week by WA Premier Colin Barnett, who stressed that the government has not yet reached a solution.
Minster for Regional Development Terry Redman originally floated the “Royalties for Regions” idea, but has since said he was “misunderstood” by the media. He stressed to VICE News that it was simply one option……….
Asked if communities had been contacted about the potential closures, the state’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier said last week that a consultation that involved “going out to all the communities” would be “just nonsensical,” and that “consultation in a general sense will continue” instead.
Dillon said such a consultation has been non-existent so far.
“The communities haven’t been contacted, no one’s asking anything,” he said. “This is going to be done without consultation, it will be a couple of blokes with a coffee in Perth making these decisions.”
The government will decide which communities stay open and which are “not viable” for investment, Dillon added.
The Partnership of Western Australian Aboriginal Land Councils invited Barnett and other key WA politicians to discuss the issue in early March, but they have yet to receive a response…….
The criteria that determines whether a community is viable has not been released, but both Redman and Barnett have stressed the likelihood that at least some of the 274 communities in the state will have to close, perhaps as many as 200.
Lauren Pike, a spokeswoman for the Kimberley Land Council, described what happened in 2011 when the government shuttered an indigenous community in Oombulgurri, a community in the eastern Kimberley, and relocated the residents to Wyndham, about 45 kilometers away.
“The result was just devastating,” Pike said. “They literally told these people to get out of their homes and that they couldn’t stay or come back, and then dumped them in the mangroves around the town.
“Houses weren’t provided — nothing was provided,” she continued. “People in the town literally had to hand out borrowed sleeping bags and blankets for these people coming in so they could have something to sleep on outside. It caused so much trouble in the community, and it only got worse from there. Suddenly people had access to alcohol, to illicit substances. It was just an absolute state of poverty.”……..
Dillon believes any future living conditions in the remote communities would consist of the bare minimum.
“They would be moved to very poor conditions,” he said. “They’re frightened and scared and they speak a different language. Now they’re all possibly going to be moved into slums and shanty towns in the city.”
Groups campaigning against the closure also believe moving the indigenous people into new towns would cost the government more in the long run than if they just maintained the status quo. https://news.vice.com/article/australia-may-stop-providing-water-and-power-to-remote-aboriginal-communities
Western Australia’s remote Aboriginal communities will not be getting state royalties – Premier Barnett
“The elderly people had talked about the Nullarbor dust storm, not knowing that they had seen the fall-out from Maralinga. I knew about Maralinga and started questioning the amount of cancer deaths…..More and more people were dying of leukemia and thyroid cancer
In terms of measuring radioactivity we are totally cut off from acquiring information because it is illegal to have a Geiger counter! We are particular concerned of the uranium mining industry, exploiting sands found near the former testing site. Plutonium testing took place at the Woomera rocket range site. The place is military territory and we do not know what actually is going on there.
The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance. ANFA (http://anfa.org.au). “Our alliance is well connected and once a month the community leaders link up by phone and we talk about what to do next. During meetings, governmental people are absent. We have international visitors from France, Japan and so on. People from all over the world should know that we do exist, that we are humans (laughter).
THE CARETAKER AND THE PLAGUE: BRITISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS TESTING IN AUSTRALIA, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, 30 Jan 15 by Ursula Gelis Ursula Gelis, Executive director of the ‘Global Women’s Association against Nuclear Testing’ works for the rights and needs of victims of nuclear weapons explosions and nuclear testing. Her partners are in Kazakhstan and other states, affected by the long-term effects of nuclear weapons testing. At the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in December 2014, she interviewed an anti-nuclear activist and nuclear test victim from Australia.
The Plague column in Vienna convincingly depicts human suffering; in this case – the tragedy of the Black Death epidemic from 1679 in Austria which killed about 30 000 to 75 000 souls. A Black Death does not distinguish between a noble and a beggar, and a nuclear weapon explosion does not either.
In today’s Australia, Aboriginal communities are still suffering from European racism that came in the aftermath of Captain Cook (1770) who looked at the Aborigines as lucky people, even if they did not own many material goods! Continue reading
The last remaining founder of the 1972 Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Michael Anderson, leader of the Euahlayi People, announced at the forecourt of Federal Parliament, “We will be back February 9 and we will stay.
From the western most region of the continent, an advocate of the Noongar people, Marianne Mackay journeyed six days to reach Canberra. “The Government wants to push our people off our homelands to make it easier for the miners and big business. Our homelands will be dispossessed unless we stand up.”
In Australia, there is the Aboriginal rights struggle, The Stringer, by Gerry Georgatos January 30th, 2015 In Australia there is no greater rights struggle than the Aboriginal rights struggle. It is a human rights struggle where not only the First Peoples of this continent were violently and murderously dispossessed of their lands but since the advent of British colonialism onto their shores they were subjected to segregation, apartheid and the systematic destruction of their cultures and languages – more than 350 First Peoples’ nations and languages have been impacted.
On January 26, 1972, four young Aboriginal men pitched a beach umbrella on the front lawns of Australia’s Federal Parliament in Canberra, and then sat under the umbrella. They declared it Aboriginal Tent Embassy. This inspired a peaceful resistance movement, with at first hundreds and then thousands converging to Canberra to join them on the parliamentary lawns – setting up tents and camping. Their stances shone the lens of the media – domestic and international – onto the horrific social inequalities and disparities between the First Peoples of this continent and the rest of the population. Their stance contributed to the demise of the then incumbent Government. Some positive changes occurred but 43 years later for far too many of the descendants of the First Peoples little has changed while for many circumstances have worsened – to third world-akin conditions. Continue reading
The Barngarla people filed a native title claim for the area in April 1996.
Justice John Mansfield delivered his judgment on their right to the land on Thursday.
The group’s claim covered 44,500 square kilometres, an area almost triangular in shape and encompassing the coast between Port Augusta and Port Lincoln and the surrounding land and sea……..
Judgment could set precedent for claims in SA, interstate
Solicitor Philip Teitzel said the case was one of the first in the nation to go over densely settled areas and could have broad implications…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-22/barngarla-people-granted-partial-native-title-in-eyre-peninsula/6033826
In her book of poems, Love Dreaming, aboriginal writer Ali Cobby Eckermann from Australia writes, “Every grain of sand in this big red country is a pore on the skin of my family.” Her writing and her new book, Too Afraid to Cry reflect the alienation of the ‘Stolen generation’ of children who were selectively taken away from their families and raised by white people and also the plight of her people who are waging a war over land rights.
Thousands of people from indigenous communities plan to hold massive protests over land issues on Australia Day on January 26, she says. Protests are continuing in various parts of Australia over mining uranium and minerals and even Kakadu National Park, on the UNESCO World Heritage Site is under threat.
In New Delhi to deliver the annual Navayana lecture, she told The Hindu in an interview that a serious lack of understanding between cultures persists in Australia at a political level and with mining it has expanded. “We worry for our children. Now the Western Australian government wants to use bulldozers and close 150 or 180 small aboriginal communities — they say it is not sustainable to keep these communities going. Where do these people go? They can wander to the city to become a makeshift community under tarpaulin as they are not going to rehouse them,” she says.
The sudden move, she suspects, is to do with mining and removing people from the area so that even that little bit of resistance is gone. That’s the scary part but the aboriginal people will survive. It’s all about land, the war is over land, she says and no one really articulates it like that. “Why would they want these remote areas which are mineral rich to be emptied of people. Western Australia is among the richest mining areas but why is not the government saying some percentage of that mining rights should go to the community. That doesn’t happen, the miners don’t pay tax and we watch the money fly away,” she points out. Continue reading
John Pilger Interview: White Australians Would Like Aboriginal People to DisappearSunday, 18 January 2015 00:00By Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview Noted journalist John Pilger directed and is the lead investigator in an extraordinary documentary, Utopia: An Epic Story of Struggle and Resistance.
Pilger incisively and tenaciously reveals the brutal conquest and continued racist treatment of the Aboriginal people in Australia. Against this appalling historical documentation of conquest, discriminating and neglect, Pilger also highlights the continued resistance of the original inhabitants of the land stolen by British settlers.
The following is a Truthout interview with John Pilger about Utopia. Continue reading
Deal to extinguish native title & land rights in one hit, The Stringer by Gerry Georgatos January 14th, 2015 More than 300 Noongar people gathered at a Perth park last Saturday to speak out against the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council’s (SWALSC) support for the Western Australian Government $1.3 billion in-kind package proposal. The Government offer if accepted by Noongar people will come on the condition that their native title rights are extinguished, and therefore whatever shot they have at land rights are extinguished.
It was the largest gathering of the Noongar community, with many high profile Elders, together in the one place on the issue of the Government proposal. The SWALSC have held many community consultations but not one of these community meetings brought together as many Noongars as were present at the ‘No Surrender’ event. The majority of SWALSC community consultations have had less than a dozen people attend.
One of the ‘No Surrender’ campaign organisers, Mervyn Eades said that if the Government proposal is passed through authorisation meetings then “our land and cultural rights will be extinguished.”
“There is nothing in this deal by the Government that provides any certainty over our land rights. We must not accept this deal. We must preserve our lore over the White man’s law.”
“There have been more than 300 native title determinations and more than 900 Indigenous land use agreements but our people wherever in this country have not benefited. Native title has divided and sold out our people. We will not sell out Noongar people,” said Mr Eades.
Noongar cultural advisor and language speaker, Joe Collard, said the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council is short-changing the claimant groups.
“Our native title representative body, our champion, the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council has let down our people. It has got nothing right in any of this. It does not even know or have any idea of our rightful claimant areas, of our clans, of our family run lines.”
Mr Collard said there is enough support in the Noongar community that if it is galvanised can topple the executive leadership of the SWALSC……….
Senior Elder Margaret Culbong said, “We never ceded this land, so we are not going to just give it up. Native title I never agreed with and this deal is less than native title. Neither is native title or this Government’s offer anything to do with land rights.”
Authorisation meetings commence at the end of the month. hestringer.com.au/deal-to-extinguish-native-title-land-rights-in-one-hit-9339#.VLlxTdKUcnk