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Holly Whittenbury on Nuclear dump siting- Aboriginal issues, tourism impact, conflict of interest issues

Senate Inquiry Submission into the Nuclear Waste Site Selection Process Holly Whittenbury

My name is Holly Whittenbury and I come from the southern Flinders Ranges. I have grown up there, spending the first 18 years of my life in Peterborough, not too far from Hawker, one of the selected dump sites. I presently study Environmental Science and plan to return to the area to assist in conservation efforts of the southern Flinders Ranges. I foresee myself being apart of the Flinders Ranges for my entire life ahead; although I do not live within the area presently, the issues within the ranges concern me wherever I am. I disagree with key aspects of the selection process for the nuclear waste dump site for the following reasons

  •   how the need for „broad community support‟ has played and will continue to play a part in the process, including: i) the definition of „broad community support‟ ii) how „broad community support‟ has been or will be determined for each
  • whether wider (Eyre Peninsular or state-wide) community views should be taken into consideration and, if so, how this is occurring or should be occurring;

Contrary to other pro-nuclear waste dump submissions, broad community support should include not just the residents within the Hawker township, but the wider surrounding area of Hawker, the state and the country.

The nearby Adnyamathanha Indigenous groups value the entire site proposed for the nuclear waste dump. Unlike Hawker residents, their spiritual home is not separated by nearly 40 kilometres. They are present in spirit and also physically through land rights beside and within the dump site location. The story-line of the Adnyamathanha people stretches 70 kilometres across the state along the ranges, their sacred birthing and healing site, Hookina Springs, lies within Grant Chapman‟s property of which they have rightful access to.

Whilst Hawker residents are separated, both physically and mentally from the proposed nuclear waste dump site, with Chapman himself declaring it is virtually wasteland, the whole area, but especially this site, is as sacred to the Adnyamathanha people as Mecca is to Muslims. To ignore or prioritise one community opinion over another is to degrade one community in favour of another. To degrade the local indigenous peoples views (who are closer in proximity to the site) in favour of the Hawker residents is to prioritise predominantly European society living in the township in European lifestyles with European law and worldviews. To claim that Indigenous consent has been gained despite the overt disagreement from the Adnyamathanha people over the waste dump site and their driving of protests which blocked the streets of Adelaide on North Terrace, is wilful ignorance in favour of nuclear fuel cycle industry and residents of non-Indigenous background. Here is a quote from Indigenous leader and outspoken critic of the waste dump, Enice Marsh, to demonstrate the obviously lack of consent and lack of consultation with the indigenous people:

“If we’re going to have that poison stuff here, even if it’s a low-level situation, it’s just absolute madness to put something like this near somewhere that’s so special,” she said.

“It’s everything; it’s a type of importance that you would never be able to describe.”

“The connection to this land for Adnyamathanha people is their culture, their customs; it’s their identity.”

In addition, criticism of the dump site has been given loudly by Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association chair Vince Coulthard:

“The Flinders Ranges is an iconic area that people come from all over the world to visit. I’m saddened to hear that the government wants to spoil this beautiful, pristine area with a devastating piece of junk. We certainly understand that there has to be somewhere they can store it, but you don’t take a pristine area and destroy that. We ask that the state government stand with the Adnyamathanha community to stop this waste dump.”

 Broad community support should also be sought state-wide; it is a state issue. The waste will either be trucked across the country through small towns or a port will be built to transport the waste first by ocean, then by rail or trucks on road. Despite the majority of the South Australian population living in Adelaide, The Flinders Ranges is an iconic totem of our state and dear to countless people, regardless of their place of residence. As stated, I am no longer living precisely within the Flinders Ranges area, yet my future depends on the area. I will return and my family still resides in Peterborough as they have done so since we first settled in Cavanaugh, north west of Dawson. My grandfather drove cattle and sheep through Horrocks Pass, just south of Hawker and the dump site, prior to the highway‟s construction. The land will always be important to many of us not necessarily physically present; broad community support needs to include those outside of the Hawker township.

  • the financial compensation offered to applicants for the acquisition of land under the Nominations of Land Guidelines;

In addition, the impact of the nuclear waste site on tourism within the Flinders Ranges should be evaluated independently and form part of state and national consensus. Presently, the Flinders Ranges is the third most popular visitor attraction (574,000 domestic visitors, 2.6 million visitor nights). It contributed 45% of tourism revenue in 2016 and employs 3,000 people directly and indirectly in the region. It therefore contributes significantly to the state economy and therefore likely affects the majority of the state‟s population in some way, even indirectly. Any reduction in this contribution to state economy (which is markedly more than what a nuclear waste dump would contribute) affects the entire state economically and has indirect consequences to many other businesses of towns surrounding Hawker in particular. My town, Peterborough, depends on tourism. It has been the town‟s only industry since the shut down of the railway industry decades ago, which saw the population of the town halve. The town depends on thriving tourism, largely bustling through its main street towards the Flinders Ranges. On weekends, in particular, the main street is full of caravans and off-road camper vehicles headed to the state icon north. The most successful businesses within the town are tourism based; hotels, motels, caravan parks, petrol stations, delis and the newsagency selling souvenirs touting the town as the „Gateway to the Flinders Ranges‟. How many other towns (Orroroo, Wirrabara, Melrose, Quorn, Yunta, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Jamestown and Terowie), would be severely affected by the site selection of the nuclear waste dump? All of these businesses would be affected; therefore, these people deserve a say in the site selection. It is impossible to say how far out a reduction of tourism within the Flinders Ranges would reach. Therefore, the entire state (and nation) deserves a say and their voices heard in regards to seeking consent on the site selection.

  • whether and/or how the Government‟s „community benefit program‟ payments affect broad community and Indigenous community sentiment;

The payment of Hawker residents with a $10 million bribe does affect surrounding populations, including the Indigenous, significantly. The process of offering money to compensate or persuade a supposedly impoverished town (Hawker) to give consent despite Indigenous views disadvantages anyone who is not indoctrinated into Neo-Liberal values of European-based society. It is an inherently and blatantly biased process, given Hawker has been bribed with something that is only worthy in exchange for land of which others have spiritual and physical connection with and with something that could never be valuable in Indigenous culture. The thinking of the Hawker residents is truly unclear and motivated by financial support for their town. It is reprehensible that anyone, including the residents who have already made submissions, suggest that only their opinion counts in the selection and consent process of a nuclear waste dump. This will house the nation‟s (and perhaps eventually, the world‟s) nuclear waste. Their opinion is the most blighted and misguided of all individuals, given their own declared poverty and the bribe (“compensation”) offered to them. Here is a quote exemplifying this by Hawker Community Development board member Ian Carpenter:

“Like any small country council, we struggle for money to put into infrastructure and schools and nursing facilities,” he said.

“Admittedly, it’s not going to employ 100 people, but if it employs 20 in our area and creates traineeships for our people, then I think it’s a great idea.” traineeships for our people, then I think it’s a great idea.”

Employing 20 people through the nuclear waste dump is NOT a good enough reason to omit the voices of the other > 1 million people within the state of South Australia. Our voices count also and are arguably more objective than the Hawker residents.

Nationally, opinions on the waste dump should also be heard. The waste will come from all over the country, from medical and other sources. The need to remove that waste, the transport of such waste and its eventual storage and where it is stored (hence the site selection process) should be considerate to all individuals‟ perspectives on the matter

. · how any need for Indigenous support has played and will continue to play a part in the process, including how Indigenous support has been or will be determined for each process advancement stage;

  • any other related matters;

Indigenous support for the site should be overwhelmingly present if a site is selected to go ahead.

To have one, single person, who chaired a committee to establish a waste dump industry in SA in 1995, nominate his property as a potential site, is clearly a conflict of interest and completely bypasses the obtaining of any other consent from surrounding communities. It is reflective of the NeoLiberal system that Australia is presently under. We care more about cash, ‘industry’, tax cuts for major companies and figures at the end of spreadsheets than making real, responsible decisions and respecting the oldest living culture on this planet. The indigenous people of the area have described their stress at knowing their home and sacred site has been nominated as a nuclear waste dump for the nation.

The nomination by Grant Chapman with complete disregard for the rare freshwater spring, biodiversity, cultural storyline and indigenous community living beside his nominated property is nothing short of a continuation of forceful Colonialism. It is an Administrative Rationality which decides what is „good‟ for everyone else, despite never really placing itself in the shoes of its constituents, especially the Adnyamathanha people. His excuse was that the nearby town of Hawker is appreciative of the $10 million bribe that will go along with the nuclear waste site. In other words, the largely non-Aboriginal community’s consent, obtained through bribes that are only valuable in a society indoctrinated into Neo-Liberal, penny-counting thinking, can override Indigenous views. It is representative of our current priorising of European, Neo-Liberal thinking over Indigenous land values. It is unacceptable that, in a country which avidly nags its citizens to be more accepting of other cultures and demonstrate our so called ‘multiculturalism’, that it does not extend this to Indigenous welfare and their views on land management. They have stated their lack of consent loud and clear. Clearly, the nearby Indigenous custodians are suffering and outraged over the site selection. The nomination of the waste dump beside the beautiful Hookina Springs really is just another slap in the face to the very culture that we should actually be listening to as a nation.

April 11, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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