Australian news, and some related international items

Not welcome, not needed: Community alliance united in response to divided Senate report on Kimba radioactive waste plan

  September 15, 2020 ‒   Federal government plans to transport, dump and store radioactive waste in South Australia are not needed, not welcome and will be actively contested says the South Australian community based No Dump Alliance.

This statement comes in response to a new Senate report into plans to change the federal radioactive waste laws by removing the community’s right of legal review.

The government controlled Senate Committee report had multiple conflicting findings which highlights the lack of political consensus. The report does not present a compelling case for the proposed changes including the legal override. In the three minority reports Committee members have raised serious concerns and opposition including over the heavy handed legal exclusion, the denial of Aboriginal and wider community rights and protections and the lack of proven need for the planned national facility.

“In the 21st Century it is unacceptable to try and airbrush away Aboriginal peoples concern over nuclear risks”, said NDA spokesperson Karina Lester. “The Barngarla Native Title holders were excluded from the Kimba community ballot about the waste plan and now the federal government is trying to deny them the right to contest the plan in court. This is not only unfair to the Barngarla people but a clear insult to the concerns expressed by Aboriginal people from right across South Australia to any dumping and storage of radioactive waste on our traditional lands from outside the state”.

The federal plan has attracted many critics as the government has failed to demonstrate that moving waste to Kimba is either necessary or responsible.

“This plan is a clear example of government overreach,” said NDA spokesperson and state secretary of the Maritime Union Jamie Newlyn. “South Australian communities have not had any say in the controversial plan but would face increased radioactive transport risks. The plan is deeply deficient and the process is fatally flawed”.

NDA member groups have committed to escalate their efforts around the Kimba waste push and will work against the federal government’s move to reduce community and environment protections in the Senate.

“We have a long, proud and united history of overturning radioactive waste plans in SA,” said Karina Lester. “From the senior desert law women the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta challenging Federal waste dump plans in the late 90’s and early 2000’s to the Scarce Royal Commission (2015-2017) our community has taken action to protect and stand up for our state. The federal government – and the Marshall government – should be under no illusions – this will be opposed”.

September 15, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

Mirrar people at last have control of Jabiru, as Ranger uranium mining set to end operations

   Traditional owners regain control of Jabiru as historic land rights law passes Senate Natasha Emeck, NT News, 3 Sept 20 HISTORIC land rights legislation that will allow the traditional owners of Jabiru to regain control of their township has passed through the Senate.

Amendments to Aboriginal land rights laws passed through the upper house of federal parliament pm Thursday, returning the ownership of Jabiru to the Mirarr people and allowing for a long-term township lease.

The mining town was built in 1982 to service the Ranger uranium mine, which will cease operation in January 2021, heralding a new era for the town and surrounding Kakadu National Park.

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said today’s historic moment had been a “long time coming” for the Mirarr people, who had been campaigning for this for 20 years.

Senior Mirarr traditional owner and Kakadu resident Yvonne Margarula, pictured in Kakadu National Park.

Mirarr senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula said her people were glad to see the legal changes finally happen.

They are essential to ensuring the vibrant post-mining future of Jabiru and the Kakadu region that Mirarr have been planning for,” she said.

We look forward to welcoming visitors from all around the world to our beautiful country.”

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, who represents the Mirarr traditional owners, have crafted a masterplan to turn Jabiru into an Indigenous-led tourism and services town.

This bipartisan change to the legislation is an essential step to correct the historical exclusion of the town of Jabiru from Aboriginal ownership and allow Mirarr to take the legal control they need to enact their vision,” chief executive Justin O’Brien said.


September 3, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

BHP shareholders demand immediate stop to mining that disturbs Aboriginal heritage

August 15, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste dump site selection process has made the Barngarla people “aliens in their own country”

Barngarla continue fight against plan to dump nuclear waste on Country,   Barngarla mob say they were not properly consulted by federal government for plans to store radioactive waste on Country at Kimba in SA, and that their concerns continue to be ignored. By Royce Kurmelovs, NITV News   29 July 20

Jeanne Miller smiles as she gets to the punchline of her story.

The 50-year-old Barngarla woman is talking about the enduring connection she has to Kimba when she tells how on the day she was born, her parents had been waiting for an ambulance that never came.

Forced to make their own way to the hospital, she says her mum made it as far as the tree outside before giving birth.

“So I’m born on Country,” she says.

Though she may not live there today, Jeanne says a part of her has never left. It is a detail that underscores the significance of the moment she learned Kimba was being considered as a dump for radioactive waste.

“I used to be a carer for my mum. When I first heard [about the facility], I told her. She goes: ‘no, no, no’ and got angry,” Jeanne says. “She said; ‘we don’t want it there’. She said to me: ‘you got to fight for this. You got to fight for it, we can’t have that place there. It’s a special place for us.’”

Most among the Barngarla have a similar story about the shock and confusion at learning their traditional Country was under consideration as part of a proposal to build a nuclear waste storage facility that would take in samples from 100 sites across the continent.

No one, they say, from the federal government contacted them beforehand to talk about the proposal, leaving most to find out through the news media or word of mouth.

Instead it was up to the Barngarla themselves, through the the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) to take the initiative and write to the government in April 2017 to find out what was going on.

‘Wasn’t interested in our views’

That first letter would plunge them into a fight that has so far lasted three years, until it entered a new phase in February when former Industry Minister Matt Canavan announced – a day before he resigned – that he had selected a site just outside of Kimba to situate the nuclear waste facility.

The location he chose was called Napandee, a slice of farmland about 25 kilometres west of Kimba. The precise area had been carved out of a 7500-hectare cereal and sheep property owned by the Baldock family and when built the facility promised to create 45 jobs and bring in $31 million to the community.

Over the course of its operating lifetime, the site would house low-to-intermediate level nuclear waste made up of medical waste drawn from 100 sites across the country. This material would include medical waste, but also the more serious TN81 canisters – casks of material once exposed to high levels of radiation that require containment for several hundred years.

If supporters of the proposal celebrated the financial windfall it would bring, critics worried the decision represented the thin end of a wedge that would eventually see the site expand to house higher-level toxic waste.

For the Barngarla people, however, the proposal represented something more significant: yet another decision where they have been overlooked, ignored and overruled in a process they describe as “divide and rule”.

“It’s like the government’s not listening to us,” Jeanne says. “It’s like if the government picks a place where they want to put rubbish like that, they’ll just go and do it and they don’t care what the people think. And that’s wrong. They should be listening to what the people want too.”

“I know there were people in Kimba that wanted it. We definitely know. We got the looks. We didn’t care. I didn’t care. This is something I believe in strongly and that’s why we don’t want it there, because of my strong beliefs and my family’s beliefs.”

After their early efforts to find out more, the Barngarla say they were stonewalled from the very beginning by both the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, and the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA). That stance would become a pattern.

At first it began with the department initially dismissing the possibility that Aboriginal heritage sites may exist in the area and ignoring requests from the Barngarla for a meeting.

It took a year – until February 2020 – before the department offered to meet with the Barngarla people, though by the time the first and only meeting took place the government was already forging ahead to measure community support through a voting process.

In organising the vote, the local council limited those who could participate to ratepayers within the township, and provided a ballot with a single question: “Do you support the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility being located at one of the nominated sites in the community of Kimba?”

Outraged by what they say was a clear act of voter suppression – a strategy common in the US where procedural tactics are used to discourage or prevent people from voting – the Barngarla took their fight to the courts.

They argued that the vote breached the Racial Discrimination Act by excluding the Traditional Owners who were openly opposed to the proposal. The matter would go all the way to the Federal Court, where it was ultimately dismissed on appeal.

Though the court found the local council had not excluded the Barngarla people on the basis of their ethnic identity, BDAC Chairperson Jason Bilney says the court did acknowledge the council had discretion about who to include in the vote, and they had deliberately chosen to exclude native title holders.

They basically created hurdles,” Bilney says. “The catchphrase was ‘rateable property’ – that’s white man’s terms ‘rateable property’. We’re the native title holders. That holds more weight than ‘rateable property’, so we should have been included.”

Around the time the Barngarla filed their lawsuit to challenge the vote, the first meeting with the department took place in August 2018 – a moment Bilney recalls with frustration.

He says Mr Canavan spoke for fifteen minutes before he left, taking all the government representatives with him.

“That’s it,” Bilney says. “He wasn’t interested in our views, he just wanted us to hear what he had to say.”

When the poll of Kimba residents was counted, it returned a result that saw 61.6 per cent of 824 participants vote in favour of the proposal.

BDAC responded by organising is own poll, asking its 209 members the same question that was asked of the broader Kimba residents.

The result would be a unanimous “No” from the 83 participants – a turnout figure explained by cultural and logistical factors that make it difficult to gather in any one place.

The Barngarla delivered the result to the department in November last year on the understanding Mr Canavan had promised to consider them together.

“Canavan said he would put the two together. He never did because if you put the two together there was clearly no broad community support,” says Bilney.

In its submissions to the senate, the department denies it agreed to incorporate the two votes, but says it only agreed to “consider” their outcomes.

Aliens in our own country’

What happens now is up to the Senate economics reference committee and a clutch of Labor, Greens and independent senators.

The Barngarla say the recent approach of the federal government – to legislate the precise location of the site – represents a new twist as it departs from the process established by the Gillard government under the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012.

Worse still, the Barngarla say the provisions of the bill will stymie their rights to seek a judicial review of the minister’s decision in the courts. The Parliamentary joint committee on human rights also raised concerns about the bill in April this year that it says may extinguish Native Title.

“In relation to any cultural and spiritual significance attaching to the land itself, it remains unclear how this would be protected once a radioactive waste facility is operational on the site. Further, it is unclear how Indigenous people will be able to access sites of cultural significance, should they be determined to exist,” the report said.

When NITV News contacted the Australia Radioactive Waste Agency for comment about the process to date, a spokesperson said in a statement the government is seeking to consult with the BDAC going forward.

“Napandee is privately owned, has no Native Title and has been used for agricultural purposes for 80 years. Preliminary assessments have identified no registered cultural heritage at the site,” the spokesperson said.

“Further ground cultural heritage surveys with Traditional Owner consultation are planned, to determine cultural heritage values at the site.

“That said, we have approached the Barngarla through BDAC numerous times during the past years to work together to identify heritage, without resolution.”

In addition, the federal government is seeking to establish a Barngarla economic plan backed by $3 million in government funding, employment opportunities at the site and a cultural heritage management plan.

The Barngarla view this as a bribe when for them it isn’t a matter of money, but one of self-determination concerning what happens on their Country, set against a much deeper history.

So far it has taken two decades for the Barngarla to have their Native Title claim to a 45,000 square kilometre stretch of the Eyre Peninsula recognised by the courts – a process during which they were once informed that they did not exist as a people.

Neither have they forgotten the horror at Maralinga when the British army tested nuclear weapons after falsely declaring there were no Aboriginal people in the area.

To the Barngarla, the government has only decided to talk after the big decisions have been made.

“We’re still flora and fauna to these people,” Bilney says. “They should have included us from the start. We heard about it on the news. We weren’t included in the vote.

“You know, the Barngarla [native title] claim was basically an unwinnable case, they said. It’s taken us 21 years. Twenty-one years to win Native Title under white man’s law. And yet we’re still classed as second-class citizens? Flora and fauna.

“We’re basically aliens in our own Country.”

July 30, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Black lives DO matter, but not apparently, to ANSTO and Australia’s nuclear lobby

The systematic racist behaviour by your Government is a stain on the collective consciousness of this country.’

the Senate Inquiry Committee decided not to hold a hearing in SA. Instead it will be a phone/video hearing — a disappointing decision for those far more at ease in face-to-face meetings even if most of the Senators involved were themselves on video.

Much at stake for Barngarla Country, Country,  Michele Madigan, 28 July 2020

    In the present world wide climate of Black Lives Matter when some governments/states are changing significant processes for the betterment of all, how is our own country fronting up when it comes to competing interests regarding land and culture? ‘Quite badly’ is the assessment that comes to mind in examining Barngarla Peoples’ recent reply to the Department of Resources, the federal department charged by government with the establishment of the national radioactive waste dump/facility (NRWMF).

Their letter of reply, publicly released July 23rd lays it down:

‘As you would likely be aware the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (Human Rights Committee) has confirmed, in their Human Rights Scrutiny Report — Report 4 of April 2020, that the proposal to place a NRWMF at Napandee is a violation of the Barngarla People’s Human Rights. This is clearly the case, given just some of the matters below…?’

The letter goes on to list how, as Traditional Owners, they were refused the right to vote, forcing them to organise their own official ballot with its unanimous ‘no’ vote which was then ‘entirely ignored by the Minister.’

Shamefully, the Barngarla further identify the final determination of government to crush First Nations and any other group seeking to use the democratic processes of the nation: ‘Those terrible failures in process would have been subject to judicial oversight had the Minister made a declaration under section14 of the existing National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 (Cth). However, being fully aware of this, the Minister is now seeking to remove the Barngarla People’s legal rights to judicial review by using Parliament to legislate the location directly.’

Yes, the gloves are certainly off in the long running saga of the federal government’s latest effort to offload the nation’s nuclear waste — this time on Barngarla Country.

The Coalition seems to be banking on the certainty that everyone’s energy about national matters is focused on the Covid-19 emergency. The Guardian reports the plan to rush through new conservation laws even before even Prof. Graeme Samuel’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) final report is written:

‘The EPBC Act Interim Report (released July 21st) ) unsurprisingly includes the reprimand that the federal government’s framework environment legislation ‘reflects an overall culture of tokenism and symbolism, rather than one of genuine inclusion of Indigenous Australians’.

At the same time, with the Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Act 2020 yet to pass the Senate, on 21st July Resources Minister Pitt announced his own kind of pre-emptive strike. His joint media release announced a ‘new agency to safely and securely manage Australia’s radioactive waste’ by the establishment of ‘a dedicated agency’ based in Adelaide which will be ‘responsible for all functions of the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility including engagement with the Kimba community.’

This is notwithstanding that the Senate Inquiry Committee is presently examining the actual issue and so of course Senators have not yet voted on the Bill, which confirms the selection of the Nappanee site in SA’s Kimba, Eyre Peninsula. The Minister’s apparent certainty of the outcome by announcing a ‘dedicated agency’ responsible for the entire matter, seems to take no account of these inconvenient facts. Is the Senate seen as irrelevant?

The bill itself narrowly passed the House of Representatives last month with opposition from Labor, the Greens and most of the Independents to whom it was clear that the rights of the Traditional Owners and other groups similarly opposed had been cast aside. MPs were aware that the process attempts to create a serious precedent. As Dave Sweeney ACF summarises: ‘the Parliament precluding the Courts.’

It is possible to turn around injustice: the Human Rights Committee’s report cited above was unanimous and was endorsed by Liberal and National Party members. With the Senate vote perhaps in September, it is to be hoped that federal Labor with its key South Australian Senators like Penny Wong and Don Farrell will follow the precedent set by their Lower House colleagues.

As well as the Greens, there are those other Senate crossbenchers who support farming communities. In the Kimba district and more widely in SA’s entire Eyre Peninsula, there are food producers disturbed by threats, whether by image or actuality, to their food production — the safety of which is more important than ever in these COVID-19 times.

A week out from the long awaited July 28th public hearing, the Senate Inquiry Committee decided not to hold a hearing in SA. Instead it will be a phone/video hearing — a disappointing decision for those far more at ease in face-to-face meetings even if most of the Senators involved were themselves on video.

But the Barngarla are clear. After refusing the funds offered to ironically ‘support their cultural heritage’ comes their letter’s devastating conclusion: ‘Your email indicates that the Government wants “to form a long term relationship with the Barngarla community based on mutual respect”. This is clearly an insincere statement given the complete violation of our rights to date. …The systematic racist behaviour by your Government is a stain on the collective consciousness of this country.’

There’s a long way to go for the Coalition to change from ‘its business as usual’ performance in this as in many other matters. We can all play our part, however, in encouraging Senators to stop another sizable wind back in the nation’s democratic processes. If the Senate defeats this Radioactive Waste Management Bill then the Barngarla and others can, as in any democratic country, take to court the minister’s processes.

There is much at stake.

July 28, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Indigenous Australians have been  failed by the nation’s environmental protection laws, a review has found.

July 21, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

A journey from Tokyo to Mirrar country: Fukushima and Australia’s uranium trade

Follow the Yellowcake Road,, A journey from Tokyo to Mirrar country, By Alexander Brown 28 June 20, 

On 19 July 2019 I boarded a plane in Tokyo and headed to Cairns for two weeks of fieldwork connected with my research on transnational activism in the Asia-Pacific. My purpose was to learn about the pathways via which uranium travels from Australia to Japan and the resistance movements and grassroots connections which have formed along the way.

Prior to the Fukushima disaster, Australia supplied approximately one third of Japan’s uranium needs, something I first became aware of when anti-nuclear activists from Australia came to Japan in 2012 for the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World.

Since that time I have pondered the nature of the nuclear relationship between my birthplace and my second home in Japan. After delving into the history of this relationship from my dusty office in Tokyo, it was time to make the physical journey along the yellowcake road and see where it might take me.

In Cairns I met with local Japanese-Australian people who organise Smile with Kids, a registered charity which brings junior high school students from Fukushima prefecture, whose lives have been disrupted in multiple ways by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, for a ten-day visit to Cairns.

The children’s visit happened to coincide with a visit to the city by Peace Boat, a cruise ship with a difference which holds peace and sustainable development education activities onboard during its global and regional voyages.

The ship is part of an NGO which campaigns around these issues and has played a significant role in fighting nuclear power in post-Fukushima Japan. Local activists took advantage of this fortuitous timing to organise a welcome event for Peace Boat passengers and staff at which the Fukushima children spoke about their experiences growing up in the wake of the nuclear disaster.

In Cairns the children stay with local homestay families and take part in an extensive educational programme. One day I accompanied them on a visit to the Cairns cenotaph, where a Cairns-based Japanese man gave a short talk on Australian’s war history and its conflict with Japan in the Second World War.

The following day they went to Spring Dew Farm, an organic farm located in the Atherton Tablelands which practices natural farming methods. The farmer is a Japanese-Australian man who took part in an eight-month walk across Australia and Japan in 2003 and 2004 visiting uranium mines and nuclear installations in protest at the devastation wrought by the nuclear industry and in an effort to connect movements and memories in the two countries. After the children had prepared a meal using vegetables they had freshly-harvested from the farm, he spoke to them about the walk.

In Canberra I dove into the archives to unearth the history of anti-nuclear resistance in Australia and the ways it has been entwined with Japan’s nuclear energy needs and with anti-nuclear social movements. I wanted to see how witnesses testifying before the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry between 1975 and 1977 understood the geography of the proposed Ranger uranium mine intended to be built in the Alligator Rivers region east of Darwin.

The results of my research confirmed what other sources had suggested: uranium mining advocates made much of anticipated demand from Japan to justify their desire to mine, while anti-nuclear activists pointed to growing anti-nuclear sentiment there. Connections between movements in the two countries were still embryonic at that time, but I found some evidence that connections were already forming which would later develop more fully in subsequent waves of anti-nuclear activism.

In Darwin I developed an understanding of how uranium mining for the Japanese market fits into the broad sweep of Northern Territory history, its imbrication with Asia and the white man’s ongoing search for a quick buck at the expense of Aboriginal land rights.

A local activist took me out to Kakadu where I was privileged to meet briefly with Yvonne Margarula, Senior Traditional Owner of the Mirrar people. I then spent two hours talking with staff at the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, the body established by the Mirrar to manage their royalties from the Ranger uranium mine and maintain ‘a balance between sustainable development, traditional practice and living culture on their land’.

Here I learned about the centrality of the Japanese uranium market to the Ranger uranium mine and to the Mirrar’s own understanding of their struggle. We finished the day with a drive past the Ranger mine, where I peered into the deep hole created by the now defunct mine. The hole is now being filled with tailings from the storage dam as part of the clean-up effort. Thanks to the long Indigenous-led struggle, signs are good that Ranger will be cleaned up to a high standard.

I concluded my trip by attending the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) conference in Darwin. This organisation is made up of a patchwork of groups who are working to maintain and rebuild the struggle for peace across Australia and the region. The network was established in response to the US pivot to Asia and Australia’s role in this, such as via the establishment of a permanent ‘rotation’ of US marines in Darwin.

The diverse currents of the peace movement represented at the conference included everything from Christian groups to former diplomats and academics to the Maritime Union of Australia, a Greens senator, local Indigenous elders and many others, all infused with an anti-racist and internationalist outlook.

Amidst all of this diversity it might seem difficult to find the common, but at our protest action outside the Darwin military base where 2,500 US troops are now permanently ‘rotated’, I was reminded that praxis can often provide a way to resolve contradictions between people with differing perspectives.

A series of fortuitous timings structured my trip, giving me a lesson in the importance of chance, synchronicity and goodwill when conducting fieldwork in unfamiliar terrain. I had a basic plan and some contacts in each port of call, but I still had concerns about whether I would find the story I wanted to tell.

As I followed the yellowcake road, however, I uncovered a rich tapestry of people, places and things which weave Australia and Japan together in the atomic age and gained just the inspiration I needed to tell the story of the way uranium mining and the quest for energy resources have connected our two island nations in the nuclear age.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues | Leave a comment

Senate should reject Nuclear Waste Bill and recommend new consultation involving all Barngarla people.

Carol Faulkner National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 [Provisions] Submission 53 . I am totally opposed to any legislative change that would allow a radioactive waste repository to be built on Barngarla traditional land in South Australia. The Barngarla people were not properly consulted. The consultation breached aboriginal regional consultation guidelines in not including all Barngarla people in the consultation process. The limits imposed on the consultation represents a denial of natural justice for the Barngarla people. 

The consultation was manifestly flawed by not including all Barngarla people. The Barngarlapeople have a deep connection to their land. The consultation process was flawed in setting an arbitrary government-imposed distance from the proposed repository for the purpose of consultation.The Committee should reject the Bill and recommend a new round of consultation involving all Barngarla people. 

June 20, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill – a drastic attack on Aboriginal rights, heritage and environment

This inquiry if successful will enable Native Title to be extinguished, whether it is admitted or not.
3 Section 4 (a) seeks to repeal the definition of Aboriginal land,
9 Section 4 (b) seeks to repeal the definition of traditional Aboriginal owners

34 GA (1) (c) seeks to override the archaeological and heritage values of the land, the significance of the
land in the traditions of the Indigenous owners, by overriding existing state and territory legal protections.

34 GB (1) (a) seeks to override the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984.

34 GB (b) seeks to override the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Stephanie Ingerson  to Sente Committee on National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 [Provisions] Submission 28 

South Australia’s north-west desert lands were laid waste by nuclear tests conducted by the British in the
1950s and 1960s at Maralinga on the country of Aboriginal traditional owners. Despite this existing nuclear wasteland, more lands belonging to traditional owners near Kimba on Eyre Peninsula are destined for more nuclear waste. Ninety per cent of the waste will be transported from the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney, overland and around the coastline of New South Wales, posing a potential risk for humans and the environment given the history of radioactive spills and accidents at the Lucas Heights reactor site. The waste will not just be gloves and gowns. The government does not talk about spent nuclear fuel rods and other hazardous radioactive high level waste, active for thousands of years,that may be destined for a radioactive waste site on Eyre Peninsula.

The Barngarla Aboriginal people have their traditional lands on Eyre Peninsula. They did not give their consent for a radioactive waste site, having been excluded from voting in a restricted ballot in Kimba conducted to secure the land for this purpose. Continue reading

June 6, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

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?–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 Continue reading

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

Friends of the Earth condemns shameful Radioactive Waste Management Bill, offers positive alternatives

Friends of the Earth,. to Senate Committee on National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 [Provisions] Submission 54 

The National Radioactive Waste Management (NRWM) Amendment Bill is deeply flawed and should be rejected. Further, the existing Act is deeply flawed and should be repealed.

The proposal to proceed with the nuclear waste facility despite the unanimous opposition of the Barngarla Traditional Owners is unconscionable and must not be allowed to stand. Shamefully, the federal government excluded Barngarla Traditional Owners from a ‘community ballot’ held in 2019. Therefore the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation initiated a separate, confidential postal survey of Traditional Owners, conducted by Australian Election Company. This resulted in 100% of respondents voting ‘no’ to the proposed nuclear facility. If the results of the two ballots are combined, the overall level of support falls to just 43.8% of eligible voters (452/824 for the government-initiated
ballot, and 0/209 for the Barngarla ballot) ‒ well short of the government’s benchmark of 65% for ‘broad community support’.

There is no consent from Barngarla Traditional Owners let alone free, prior and informed consent. The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Act systematically disempowers and dispossesses Traditional Owners, and the Amendment Bill worsens the situation and strips Traditional Owners of their legal review rights. Legal advice in a Feb. 2020 report by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights notes that the Bill “would enable native title to be extinguished, without the consent of the traditional owners”, and it raises further concerns about the Bill’s intention to permit the acquisition of land for an access route without any Parliamentary oversight or right of appeal.
The Act, the Bill, and the proposed nuclear waste facility are all inconsistent with the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Committee) has said that Australia’s historically “racially discriminatory land practices have endured as an acute impairment of the rights of Australia’s indigenous communities”. Imposing a nuclear waste facility on Barngarla Country will clearly exacerbate the problems identified by the CERD Committee
In 2017, the CERD Committee expressed concern “about information that extractive and development projects are carried out on lands owned or traditionally owned by Indigenous Peoples without seeking their prior, free and informed consent” and recommended that Australia “ensure that the principle of free, prior and informed consent is incorporated into the Native Title Act 1993 and in other legislation as appropriate, and fully implemented in practice”.
The Senate Committee should recommend rejection of the NRWM Amendment Bill, and rejection of the proposed nuclear waste facility, in light of the clear opposition of the Barngarla Traditional Owners. The Senate Committee should also recommend that the government follow the advice of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to “ensure that the principle of free, prior and informed consent is incorporated into the Native Title Act 1993 and in other legislation as appropriate, and fully implemented in practice”.
It should be noted that the willingness to override the rights and interests of the Barngarla Traditional Owners is opposed by the SA Labor Party. The SA Labor Party argues that Traditional Owners ought to have a right of veto over nuclear projects given the sad and sorry history of the nuclear industry in SA, stretching back to the British atomic bomb tests. That position dates from 2017, if not earlier. In 2017, then Premier Jay Weatherill wrote to then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recommending that the federal government adopt the policy of allowing a right of veto by affected Traditional Owners in relation to the planned national nuclear waste facility.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition Susan Close says that SA Labor is “utterly opposed” to the “appalling” process which led to the announcement regarding the Kimba site.1 The SA ALP State Conference on 13 October 2018 endorsed a resolution which pledged to support Traditional Owners in the Kimba region in their struggle to prevent a national nuclear waste facility being constructed on their country. The 2018 State Conference resolution further
committed the SA Labor Party to “support communities opposing the nomination of their lands or region for a dump site, and any workers who refuse to facilitate the construction and operation or transport and handling of radioactive waste material destined for any contested facility or sites including South Australian Port communities.”
The federal government’s willingness to override the rights and interests of Traditional Owners, and to strip them of further rights (including legal appeal rights) through the NRWM Amendment Bill, makes for a sad contrast with the situation in Canada. Earlier this year, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation voted against plans for a nuclear waste repository near Lake Huron after a lengthy consultation period. The Canadian government then announced that it will respect the decision and will no longer target the site.2
Deputy Leader of the Opposition Susan Close says that SA Labor is “utterly opposed” to the “appalling” process which led to the announcement regarding the Kimba site.1 The SA ALP State Conference on 13 October 2018 endorsed a resolution which pledged to support Traditional Owners in the Kimba region in their struggle to prevent a national nuclear waste facility being constructed on their country. The 2018 State Conference resolution further
committed the SA Labor Party to “support communities opposing the nomination of their lands or region for a dump site, and any workers who refuse to facilitate the construction and operation or transport and handling of radioactive waste material destined for any contested facility or sites including South Australian Port communities.”

Illegal under SA law: The proposed nuclear waste facility is illegal under South Australia’s
Nuclear Waste Facility (Prohibition) Act, introduced by the SA Liberal Government in the
year 2000 and strengthened by the SA Labor Government in 2002. The federal government is expected to take the draconian and unacceptable step of using regulations to specifically override the SA Nuclear Waste Facility (Prohibition) Act. South Australians are opposed to the proposed nuclear waste facility: a 2015 survey found just 15.7% support for a nuclear waste dump, and a 2018 survey found that those who strongly agreed with stopping the dump outnumbered those who strongly disagreed by a factor of three (41:14).


Breaching NH and MRC siting guidelines: Only 4.5% of South Australia is arable land. It is of deep concern that a radioactive waste could be allowed to jeopardise the Eyre Peninsula’s agricultural industries. Indeed the government’s proposal is a clear breach of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s ‘Code of Practice for Near-Surface Disposal of Radioactive Waste in Australia’ which states that “the site for the facility should be located
in a region which has no known significant natural resources, including potentially valuable mineral deposits, and which has little or no potential for agriculture or outdoor recreational use”.

Long-lived intermediate-level waste: Measured by radioactivity, long-lived intermediate level
waste currently stored at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights site in NSW accounts for an overwhelming majority (>90%) of the waste destined for the nuclear waste facility in SA. There is no logic behind the proposal to move intermediate-level waste from interim abovegroundstorage at Lucas Heights to interim above-ground storage at the Kimba site. The proposed double-handling is illogical, it exposes communities to unnecessary risk, and ARPANSA’s Nuclear Safety Committee has indicated that it is not consistent with international best practice.
It beggars belief that double-handling ‒ and the movement of long-lived intermediate-level waste from a site with greater safety and security provisions to a site with lesser provisions ‒ is even being contemplated. This absurd situation demonstrates the incompetent handling of this matter by successive ministers and departmental officials over many years. The Senate Committee should recommend that portfolio responsibility for this matter is shifted
from Industry, Innovation and Science to another minister and department (e.g. health) who might do a better job.
The existing 2012 Act is flawed
Friends of the Earth Australia wishes to emphasise that not only is the NRWM Amendment Bill deploy flawed, the existing National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 (NRWMA) is undemocratic in many respects. The Act should either be repealed or radically amended to remove clauses which disempower Australians and in particular First Nations.The current Bill does the exact opposite..
A 2017 report released by Friends of the Earth Australia points to serious problems with the NRWMA.

Monash University fifth-year law student Amanda Ngo ‒ is posted at

The NRWMA gives the federal government the power to extinguish rights and interests in land targeted for a radioactive waste facility. In so doing the relevant Minister must “take into account any relevant comments by persons with a right or interest in the land” but there is no requirement to secure consent from Traditional Owners.

Aboriginal Traditional Owners, local communities, pastoralists, business owners, local councils and State/Territory Governments are all disadvantaged and disempowered by the NRWMA.
The NRWMA goes to particular lengths to disempower Traditional Owners. The nomination of a site for a radioactive waste facility is valid even if Aboriginal owners were not consulted and did not give consent. More precisely, the NRWMA states that consultation should be conducted with Traditional Owners and consent should be secured ‒ but that the nomination of a site for a radioactive waste facility is valid even in the absence of consultation or consent.
The NRWMA has sections which nullify State or Territory laws that protect the archaeological or heritage values of land or objects, including those which relate to Indigenous traditions. The Act curtails the application of Commonwealth laws including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 and the Native Title Act 1993 in the important site-selection stage. The Native Title Act 1993 is expressly overridden in relation to land acquisition for a radioactive waste facility. The NRWMA has been criticised in both Senate Inquiries and a Federal Court challenge to an earlier federal government attempt to impose a national radioactive waste facility at
Muckaty in the Northern Territory.
The NRWMA also puts the federal government’s radioactive waste agenda above environmental protection as it seeks to curtail the application of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. A senior government official told a public meeting in Hawker in 2016 that the NRWMA is based on ‘world’s best practice’. In fact, the legislation systematically disempowers local communities and Traditional Owners and weakens environmental protections. It needs to be radically amended or replaced with legislation that protects the environment and gives local communities and Traditional Owners the right to say ‘no’ to radioactive waste facilities.
Some positive proposals
Previous, failed attempts to establish a Commonwealth radioactive waste facility (repository and store) assumed the need for off-site, centralised facilities. This assumption continues  with the current project configuration. However, a closer examination indicates both that this assumption may not be warranted and that there are major information gaps that need to be addressed before informed decisions can be made.
An important, preliminary task is to establish an accurate and up-to-date inventory of Australia’s radioactive waste stockpiles. That must include consideration of the nature and adequacy/inadequacy of current storage conditions, and the nature and adequacy/inadequacy of institutional control. Serious consideration of those issues is necessary if informed decisions about future waste management options are to be made, yet successive Governments have largely ignored these issues and information on waste inventories is superficial and unhelpful. The government should adopt a more nuanced approach which may allow it to make progress in a contested public policy area where previous governments have failed. This approach would involve:
(i) Differentiating waste that needs to be moved vs. waste that does not need to be moved, consistent with the net-benefit clause in the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act – the ARPANS Act. This in turn would require a more detailed inventory than has been compiled to date and consideration of issues (detailed in a 2014 briefing paper3 co-authored by Friends of the Earth) such as the number of legacy waste sites and
the adequacy/inadequacy of existing storage sites. The failure to actively address these basic issues has worked against progression to the resolution of this contentious public issue in recent decades.
(ii) Differentiating waste arising from the operations of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) from non-ANSTO waste. ANSTO is quite capable of managing its own waste, at least in the medium term. Permanent disposal of ANSTO waste should be explored and addressed in subsequent decades, keeping in mind
that ANSTO is likely to be operating at its current site for many decades to come.
Importantly, the current national facility proposal at Kimba explicitly does not seek to dispose of ANSTO’s most problematic radioactive wastes.
(iii) Differentiating low level radioactive wastes from long-lived intermediate-level waste. Plans to move intermediate-level waste from Lucas Heights (and elsewhere) to an above-ground store co-located with the low-level waste repository, and then to an unspecified site at an unspecified later date, make no sense from a policy perspective and
they significantly raise public-acceptance obstacles. The current co-location proposal would mean double handling i.e. transport to the interim national store then future transport to a currently non-determined disposal site. Such an approach would be likely fail the net benefit test that ARPANSA would need to apply in response to any license application
With a detailed inventory completed, thorough consideration of all waste management options is required. That work should be carried out by a dedicated National Commission or comparable public inquiry mechanism. A detailed discussion on how that Commission might be constituted and the issues it might address is contained in the 2014 briefing paper.4 For ANSTO waste, ongoing storage at Lucas Heights needs consideration. Relevant government agencies (and others) have acknowledged that ongoing radioactive waste storage at Lucas Heights is a viable option:
• Andrew Humpherson, ANSTO: “Lucas Heights is a 70-hectare campus with something like 80 buildings. It’s a large area. We’ve got quite a number of buildings there which  house radioactive materials. They’re all stored safely and securely and all surrounded by  a high-security perimeter fence with Federal Police guarding. It is the most secure facility we have got in Australia.”6
• Dr Clarence Hardy, Australian Nuclear Association: “It would be entirely feasible to keep storing it [radioactive waste] at Lucas Heights …”7
• Then ARPANSA CEO John Loy: “Should it come about that the national approach to a waste repository not proceed, it will be necessary for the Commonwealth to devise an approach to final disposal of LLW from Lucas Heights, including LLW generated by operation of the RRR [Replacement Research Reactor]. In the meantime, this waste will
have to be continued to be handled properly on the Lucas Heights site. I am satisfied, on the basis of my assessment of the present waste management plan, including the license and conditions applying to the waste operations on site, that it can be.”8
• Department of Education, Science and Tourism: “A significant factor is that ANSTO has the capacity to safety store considerable volumes of waste at Lucas Heights and is unlikely to seek the holding of frequent campaigns to disposal of waste holdings generated after the initial campaign.”9
• Dr Ron Cameron, ANSTO, when asked if ANSTO could continue to manage its own waste:
“ANSTO is capable of handling and storing wastes for long periods of time. There is no difficulty with that. I think we’ve been doing it for many years. We have the capability  and technology to do so.”5
3 Friends of the Earth, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, Australian Conservation Foundation, November

2014, ‘Responsible Radioactive Waste Management in Australia: The Case For An Independent
Commission Of Inquiry’,
4 Ibid. proposing double handling. With a detailed inventory completed,

6 September 2008,
7 ARPANSA forum, Adelaide, 26 February 2004,

8 April 2002, Decision by the CEO of ARPANSA on Application to construct the Replacement Research
Reactor at Lucas Heights. Reasons for Decision”, p.30.
9 Application to ARPANSA, 2003, Vol.iii Ch.9 Waste – Transfer and Documentation p.5.

May 29, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

A WASTE OF TIME – submissions re radioactive waste dump Inquiry- ONLY TECHNICAL MATTERS will be considered

Noel Wauchope 27 May 20  It looks like the Senate Committee inquiring into the Bill to amend the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012  will limit the scope of their inquiries to mainly technical and scientific information. This will be done for two reasons.

The first reason is to bolster ANSTO’s position for getting all the licences for the facility at Napandee as described in ARPANSA’s submission since there are strong and real doubts that ANSTO will not succeed in getting them.

This would make the whole selection process a futile and unnecessary exercise without a result. We all know that this cost millions of dollars.

The second reason is that by concentrating on the technical factors the Committee will be able to avoid dealing with the more emotive questions based on the differences within the community, the outcome of the Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights and the destroying of Native Title and other matters. The result is that many of fine submissions to the Committee will now be simply ignored as they do not include technical data.

What hope does the general community have?

May 27, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

A tribute to the Maralinga traditional owners

This is a critical and never-ending land management responsibility which the Maralinga people, who suffered the environmental and health effects of the nuclear tests, have shouldered on behalf of the Australian community.

He was able to relate to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, cabinet ministers and homeless people alike. He treated everyone with candour and respect.

By word and deed he refused to accept that Aboriginal people were inferior

Why Archie Barton and the Maralinga traditional owners are the unsung heroes of the British nuclear test program in Australia  By Andrew Collett

Politicians, bureaucrats, scientists and advisers come and go. The traditional owners must plug on with the management and rehabilitation of their land — on behalf of us all.

Andrew Collett is an Adelaide barrister and one of the lawyers who has represented the Maralinga traditional owners since 1984. Find out more about the story of the people of Oak Valley and Yalata in a new ABC TV documentary, Maralinga Tjarutja, available to stream now on iview.

  The traditional owners of the 100,000 square kilometre Maralinga Lands didn’t only shoulder the harsh legacy of the British nuclear testing while it was happening in the 1950s and 60s.

To this day, they are managing the still contaminated test sites in far-west South Australia on behalf of Australia and Britain.

For this they receive little recognition and inadequate financial assistance — despite having established extremely constructive and enduring relationships with Australian scientists and government representatives.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains names and images of people who have died.

The Maralinga people were kept away from their lands and from any knowledge about what happened in the nuclear tests from 1955 until they obtained land rights and finally returned to their lands in 1985 — an isolation of 30 years, or well over a generation in Aboriginal terms.

For that 30 years the Maralinga people were kept at the Lutheran Mission at Yalata, away from their traditional lands, isolated from their Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara communities over 400 kilometres to the north and from much of their vibrant Western Desert tradition and ceremony.

They fell prey to social and cultural isolation and deteriorating health outcomes.

When they returned to their traditional lands in 1985, having been granted land rights to all their lands apart from the test sites, a royal commission was sitting in London examining what had happened during the Maralinga nuclear tests and why.

A constructive partnership with governmen Continue reading

May 26, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Regina McKenzie comments on Felicity Wright’s submission about the National Radioactive WAste Dump

May 21, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | Leave a comment

Felicity Wright: appalled at effect on Aboriginal communities of decision on National Radioactive Waste Dump Site

Felicity Wright – Submision to Senate Committee on National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 [Provisions] Submission 98

I am a resident of the Eyre Peninsula. Whilst the bulk of this email has been taken from the ACF template I
confirm that I endorse the contents fully. As an ally and advocate for Indigenous peoples for more than 30 years
I was appalled at the terrible toll fighting the nuclear waste facility in the Flinders Ranges took upon my friends.
I watched one of my closest friends visibly age as she surrendered her art practice and her enjoyment of life to
dedicate herself to challenging it.

It does not escape my attention that the Eyre Peninsula is a significant distance from the east coast and few
politicians would be familiar with the area. Neither would their electorates, therefore it looks like a convenient
location to store something highly problematic.

I have deep concerns about the federal governments proposed changes to the National Radioactive Waste
Management Act.   The government has not made a clear case about the need for the planned national facility at Kimba and the process has been restricted and inadequate.

In particular, I am concerned that the planned changes:
• restrict or remove options for judicial review of the government’s site selection under current laws
• unreasonably reduce the rights and options of the Barngarla Traditional Owners and other directly
impacted parties and have not been made with proper consultation
• exempt key environmental and cultural heritage protection laws from being used.
• fail to make any clear or compelling radiological or public health case for doubling handling the long-lived
intermediate level waste (ILW) at significant public expense
• do not provide any certainty about the long-term management of Australia’s radioactive waste
• are not consistent with international best practice in relation to siting, community consultation or
procedural fairness around radioactive waste
• do not recognise or respect long standing South Australian legislation prohibiting any federal radioactive
waste facility

Against the current context of uncertainty and disruption due to the impact of Covid 19 the further uncertainty
and contest generated by the federal government’s approach to radioactive waste is not helpful or justified.
I urge the Committee not to support the proposed changes to the current legislation and instead call for a
dedicated comprehensive review of management options in order to best realise responsible radioactive waste
management in Australia.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment