Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

60 years ago, Aborginal people’s land desecrated by nuclear bombs. Now a new desecration – nuclear wastes?

Even I know off by heart the supercilious tones of the Chief Scientist of the British nuclear tests, Ernest Titterton’s on-screen completely false declaration: ‘No Aboriginal people were harmed.’  The discovery of Edie Milpuddie and family as they camped on the edge of the Marcoo bomb crater was dramatic exposure of that cruel fiction. It is extraordinary to see the actual footage of this moment in the film; and so sobering to hear again the terrible repercussions among her descendants.

‘No Aboriginal people were harmed.’ Add into that mix, English and Australian servicemen and the various pastoral landholders; and from the strong desert winds including across the APY Lands, we will never know the results of the further fallout across the state and nation.

Wind forward another 30 years again and the well being of another almost neighbouring group of Aboriginal people is threatened with nuclear repercussions: this time by the plan for the nation’s nuclear waste ‘stored’ (dumped) on their Country. Again as Traditional Owners, the Barngarla denied a say on their own Country, while a few white ‘latecomers’ were given theirs.

The nuclear fight: then and now,  Eureka Street  Michele Madigan, 04 June 2020 heeded?  https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article/the-nuclear-fight–then-and-now?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Thursday%204%20June%202020&utm_content=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Thursday%204%20June%202020+CID_d497ae8df79099faf8643a0a84a8536d&utm_source=Jescom%20Newsletters&utm_term=READ%20MORE  On Sunday 24th May, the ABC showed the documentary Maralinga Tjarutja produced and directed by lawyer, academic, filmmaker and Eualeyai/Kamillaroi woman Larissa Berendt. It was wonderful to see the Traditional Owners including the women given a current national voice as survivors of the British nuclear tests on their lands. Mima Smart OAM former long-term chairperson of Yalata Community was co-presenter with the chair of Maralinga Tjarutja, Jeremy Lebois; Mima’s Maralinga art, painted in collaboration with other Yalata minyma tjuta — women artists, becoming an integral background story — sometimes even in animation.

In the early 80s, after a monumental effort by the Aboriginal peoples of South Australia’s Far North West and their supporters, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunyjatjara Anangu gained their Land title. The Yalata people to the south at the time, I remember, had been discouraged by their then Community Advisor to take part. As a result, when the Yalata people’s will finally had their way, it meant that they had to make their own path

In response, the South Australian Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement called together previous supporters. I recall at this first meeting, various priests/pastors/church workers standing together in a circle declaring that they could see that the Pitjantjatjara (in those days the Yankunyjatjara were not named) had really deserved their title as they had remained on their land and kept their ceremonies.

What an extraordinary thing that it had to be pointed out to most of them that surely the Maralinga Tjarutja People had been doubly disadvantaged. Surely their forced removal from their traditional lands, then ‘blocked off’ (as they named it) for 30 years, made their cry for their title and their return just as, or even more, worthy.

As in the previous campaign, Yalata Anangu travelled to the capital city — this time the 1000 kms from SA’s Far West Coast. The struggle through the South Australian Parliament made harder this second time around as parliamentarians, having learned from the first Land Rights granted, were determined to force even more concessions.
But the 18th December 1984 victory celebration is a wonderful scene in the film. On site, on the Maralinga Lands, the nominated Elders Mr Queama and Mr Baker brought in by younger family to receive — at last — from Premier Bannon the so long awaited Land Title named the ‘Maralinga Land Rights’. Tjilpi kutjara, both Old Men, triumphantly flourishing the document and the faces of so many women and men, young people and kids reflecting this same glorious exultation. At last, after an incredible 30 years of exile — they could officially return to their lands — the real red soft earth of their heritage.

Even I know off by heart the supercilious tones of the Chief Scientist of the British nuclear tests, Ernest Titterton’s on-screen completely false declaration: ‘No Aboriginal people were harmed.’  The discovery of Edie Milpuddie and family as they camped on the edge of the Marcoo bomb crater was dramatic exposure of that cruel fiction. It is extraordinary to see the actual footage of this moment in the film; and so sobering to hear again the terrible repercussions among her descendants.

‘No Aboriginal people were harmed.’ Add into that mix, English and Australian servicemen and the various pastoral landholders; and from the strong desert winds including across the APY Lands, we will never know the results of the further fallout across the state and nation.

This is our Australian history; remarkable that it has continued to be so well hidden. Maralinga Tjarutja, now on ABC iView, gives all Australians the opportunity to come to terms with an arrogant deception and to witness the courage of the people surviving back on country.

Wind forward another 30 years again and the well being of another almost neighbouring group of Aboriginal people is threatened with nuclear repercussions: this time by the plan for the nation’s nuclear waste ‘stored’ (dumped) on their Country. Again as Traditional Owners, the Barngarla denied a say on their own Country, while a few white ‘latecomers’ were given theirs.

As with the British nuclear tests, obviously not only Aboriginal people are at risk of harm — and saying so. There are farmers concerned for their livelihood, family members concerned for their present and future generations and many South Australians concerned at the dangers of transporting intermediate long lived radioactive waste toxic across 1700 kms of our vast nation. No long term plan at all for a scientific resolution to the storage of this waste, toxic for an unimaginable 10,000 years.

There are the same bland assurances from successive ministers, the local MP and government bureaucrats that all will be well, nothing will go wrong; fears for lands and waters and the reputation of our state’s food, fibre and tourism brushed aside. Again a strong media secrecy, intended or otherwise, from all, save a few local regional outlets.

Again as with the British nuclear tests — 60 years later the determination of a federal government intent on maintaining secrecy of the real; this time hiding behind the false insistence of nuclear medicine at risk and careful assurances that radiation from bomb fallout was a completely different risk.

But — nuclear radiation is nuclear radiation

And as Mima Smart has said on the sands of Yalata Community, on the steps of Parliament house — ‘Enough is Enough.‘

No, they didn’t know what they were doing then in the 1950s/60s and they certainly don’t know what they’re doing now. Here’s the question: will the truth of some of this 21st century nuclear plan be allowed to emerge in the coming public hearings of the present Parliamentary Inquiry?

And if so, be heeded?

June 6, 2020 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, history, reference, weapons and war

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