Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Upurli Upurli people say no to uranium mining at Mulga Rock, Western Australia

 https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/upurli-upurli-people-say-no-uranium-mining-mulga-rock

Sam Wainwright, Perth, November 28, 2022

Nuclear Free WA protested outside Deep Yellow’s annual general meeting on November 25 against the company’s plans to mine uranium at Mulga Rock, north west of Kalgoorlie. The Upurli Upurli traditional owners absolutely oppose it.

Deep Yellow holds the only uranium deposit in Western Australia. This was the company’s first AGM following its merger in August with Vimy Resources.

Mia Pepper, Nuclear Free Campaigner at the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA), who has been tracking the mine plans for more than 10 years, said it faces more opposition than ever.

Deep Yellow does not have “any agreement with the Native Title claim groups” and “it doesn’t have the finance”, she said.

It has just started a third Definitive Feasibility Study into the beleaguered project, expected to be completed mid-2024. The latest project delay casts further doubt on the future of the site, campaigners said.

“Deep Yellow is the only company beating the uranium drum in Western Australia and even their own executive team has been clear they have no intention to mine at the current uranium price,” Pepper said.

“For a company with a highly speculative business model, no operating mines, many regulatory hurdles still to clear, and a sizeable pricing disincentive, it’s astounding that shareholders would endorse the proposed remuneration package for the Deep Yellow executive team, with the CEO alone receiving over $1 million,” she continued

First Nations communities have been continuing their protests.

WA Greens Legislative Council member Brad Pettitt read a statement in parliament on November 17 on behalf of Upurli Upurli and Spinifex women.

“We are Upurli Upurli and Spinifex women and we are writing because we face the unprecedented threat of uranium mining at Mulga Rock, east of Kalgoorlie … We have been saying no to uranium mining at Mulga Rock for a long time”

Their statement also detailed concerns about Deep Yellow’s executive who held senior roles in companies responsible for the destruction of Juukan Gorge, as well as several incidents of environmental pollution, industrial relations controversies and workplace fatalities at uranium mines in Malawi and Namibia.

The CCWA is delivering a WA Uranium Free Charter to WA MPs. It demands they “review and remove any approval for uranium mining at Mulga Rock” as well as withdraw the approvals of the stalled proposed uranium mines at Kintyre, Yeelirrie and Wiluna.

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November 29, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

70 years since Operation Hurricane: the shameful history of British nuclear tests in Australia

Red Flag, by Nick Everett, Sunday, 16 October 2022

At 9.30am on 3 October 1952, a mushroom cloud billowed up above the Monte Bello Islands, 130 kilometres off the coast of Western Australia. The next day, the West Australian reported: “At first deep pink, it quickly changed to mauve in the centre, with pink towards the outside and brilliantly white turbulent edges. Within two minutes the cloud, which was still like a giant cauliflower, was 10,000 feet [three kilometres] high”.

Derek Hickman, a royal engineer who witnessed the blast aboard guard ship HMS Zeebrugge, told the Mirror: “We had no protective clothing … They ordered us to muster on deck and turn our backs. We put our hands over our eyes and they counted down over the tannoy [loudspeaker]. There was a sharp flash, and I could see the bones in my hands like an X-ray. Then the sound and the wind, and they told us to turn and face it. The bomb was in the hull of a 1,450-ton warship and all that was left of her were a few fist-sized pieces of metal that fell like rain, and the shape of the frigate scorched on the seabed.” 

Operation Hurricane was, up until that moment, a closely guarded secret. ……………………….

Throughout 1946, negotiations took place between the British and Australian governments, culminating in an agreement to establish a 480-kilometre rocket range extending northwest from Mount Eba (later moved to Woomera) in outback South Australia. 

On 22 November 1946, Defence Minister John Dedman informed parliament of cabinet’s decision to establish the rocket range. Peter Morton, author of Fire Across the Desert: Woomera and the Anglo-Australian Joint Project 1946–1980, explains that Dedman reiterated claims made in a report by British army officer John Fullerton Evetts that related to the original proposed site at the more remote location of Mount Eba, not Woomera. Dedman told parliament that Australia was the only suitable landmass in the Commonwealth for such testing, the designated area was largely uninhabited and that impacts on the Aboriginal population in the Central Aboriginal Reserves would be negligible. According to Morton, there were approximately 1800 Aboriginal people living on the reserves at the time. The Committee on Guided Projectiles would immediately begin consultations with the director of Native Affairs and other authorities, Dedman told parliament.

Dedman’s announcement ignited fierce opposition. In her book Different White People: Radical Activism for Aboriginal Rights 1946-1972, Deborah Wilson describes the independent Labor member for Bourke, Doris Blackburn, spearheading a peace movement strongly supported by the Australian Communist Party. She published her speeches in the CPA newspaper, Tribune. Blackburn was the widow of lawyer and parliamentarian Maurice Blackburn, whose left-wing views resulted in his expulsion from the ALP. 

Blackburn insisted that the rocket range amounted to a grave injustice against a “voiceless minority”, Australia’s First Nations people. In March 1947, medical practitioner Charles Duguid told a 1300-strong Rocket Range Protest Committee meeting in Melbourne that he was appalled by the government’s blatant “disregard” for the rights of Aboriginal people. According to a Tribune report, he asked those present: “Shot and poisoned as they were in the early days, neglected and despised more lately, will most of our Aborigines [sic] now be finally sacrificed and hurried to extinction by sudden contact with the mad demands of twentieth century militarism?”

Dedman, supported by the Menzies-led opposition, dismissed concerns expressed by Duguid and anthropologist Donald Thompson that contact between military personnel and Aboriginal people living in the military zone would have devastating consequences for their traditional way of life. Deploying assimilation arguments, Dedman insisted that contact between military personnel and “natives” in the area would simply accelerate an inevitable process of detribalisation. 

Meanwhile, Liberal and Country Party politicians railed against Duguid and other opponents of the project, labelling them dupes of communism with a lax attitude to the nation’s security, according to Wilson. They called on the Chifley government to follow the example of the Canadian royal commission established to weed out alleged communist spies in public sector employment…………….

In June 1947, federal parliament rushed through the Approved Defence Projects Protection Bill, a gag tool preventing critical commentary about the government’s defence policy. Transgressors were threatened with fines of up to £5,000 or a 12-month prison sentence.

Under the cover of “national security”, federal bans were imposed on union officials visiting the Woomera rocket range site, now a no-go area for anyone other than sanctioned military personnel. Anti-communist fearmongering helped set the scene for the Chifley government’s establishment of a new and powerful security organisation, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), in 1949.

In mid-1947, 446 kilometres north of Adelaide, the Woomera township was swiftly constructed on the traditional lands of the Kokatha people. By mid-1950, its population had grown to 3,500 and, over the following decade, doubled to 7,000. Roads gouged through Aboriginal country. Electricity and telegraph lines soon followed, connecting the military base with centres of political power.  

The nature of the missile testing remained a top secret to all but those firmly ensconced within the upper echelons of the Department of Defence. However, rumours of a nuclear testing program abounded. The detonation of a 25-kiloton nuclear weapon off the Monte Bello Islands made Britain’s nuclear ambitions, and the Australian government’s complicity, visible for the world. 

In the film Australian Atomic Confessions, witness May Torres, a Gooniyandi woman living at Jubilee Downs in the Kimberley, described observing a cloudy haze that remained in the sky for four or five days. At the time she did not know that it carried radioactive particles that were to contribute to cancer and an early death for many of her community, including her husband, in the early 1960s.

Another witness, Royal Australian Air Force pilot Barry Neale, described aircraft operating out of Townsville identifying nuclear particles in the air three days after the detonation. Two days later, New Zealand Air Force aircraft similarly observed radioactive particles that had emanated from Operation Hurricane. Still today, signs on the Monte Bello islands warn visitors about the dangers of elevated radiation levels.

In October 1953, two nuclear tests (Operation Totem) took place at Emu Field, 500 kilometres northwest of Woomera. In May and June 1956, nuclear testing returned to the Monte Bello Islands. Operation Mosaic detonated the largest ever nuclear device in Australia: a 60-kiloton weapon four times as powerful as that which had destroyed Hiroshima. 

My aunt was among the children who witnessed the Monte Bello explosion from the jetty in the Pilbara town of Roebourne. The spectacle left her and her siblings covered in ash, oblivious to the toxicity of the fallout they were exposed to. 

Meanwhile, west of Woomera, Aboriginal people were being relocated from their traditional lands. In preparation for Operation Buffalo, a series of four nuclear tests at the Maralinga Testing Ground, an 1,100 square kilometre area was excised from the Laverton-Warburton reserve and declared a no-go area. 

Two patrol officers, William MacDougal and Robert (Bob) Macaulay, were given the nearly impossible task of keeping Aboriginal people out of the no-go area. The pair’s reports to the range superintendent were frequently censored, according to Morton. 

In December 1956, a Western Australian parliamentary select committee, led by Liberal MLA William Grayden, visited the Laverton-Warburton Ranges. The select committee’s report (the Grayden Report) identified that displaced Aboriginal people suffered from malnutrition, blindness, unsanitary conditions, inadequate food and water sources, and brutal exploitation by pastoral interests.

News reports in the Murdoch-owned Adelaide News dismissed the committee’s findings, insisting that the claims could not be substantiated. Responding to the Murdoch media whitewash, Tribune reported on 9 January 1957 that the committee had “ripped aside the screen that has veiled the cruel plight to which our [g]overnments condemn Australian Aborigines”.

Tribune asserted that “huge areas of the most favourable land are being taken from [Aboriginal] reserves and provided for mining interests, atomic and guided missile grounds, and other purposes”.

A subsequent Tribune article reported a week later on the observations of Pastor Doug Nicholls, who accompanied the West Australian minister for native welfare, John Brady, on a tour of the Warburton-Laverton district. According to Tribune:

“Pastor Nicholls said that at Giles weather station, deep in the heart of the best hunting grounds in the Warburton reserve—a region that the Government had stolen as part of the Woomera range—the white people lived like kings, and the Aboriginal people worse than paupers … The Commonwealth had spent a fortune on Woomera, but has not even supplied a well for the Aboriginals.”

The Grayden Report deeply shocked the public. A film documentary produced by Grayden and Nicholls, Their Darkest Hour, further exposed these crimes. Wilson describes scenes from the film:

“Images of malnourished, sick and poverty-stricken Aboriginal people bombard the viewer. A mother’s arm has rotted off with yaws. A blind man with one leg hobbles grotesquely on an artificial leg stuffed with furs and bandaged into an elephant-like stump. Malnourished children with huge swollen bellies stare blankly at the camera. A baby lies deathlike beside a mother too weak to walk. A sickening close-up of a toddler who fell into a fire reveals cooked flesh covered with flies. Skeletal remains of a man, dead from thirst, lie beside a dried-up waterhole. As the film concludes, his body is buried in an unmarked grave.”

The detrimental impact of British nuclear testing in Australia wasn’t limited to traditional Aboriginal people. It also exposed thousands of military personnel and their families to nuclear radiation, survivors still feeling the effects seven decades on, according to submissions received by the 1985 McClelland Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia

In 2001, a group of Melbourne scientists made a startling discovery: thousands of jars of ashed human bone that all contained strontium 90, a by-product of nuclear testing that can cause bone cancer and leukaemia. All had been collected from autopsies without the consent of family members, according to a 2002 report by the Australian Health Ethics Committee. This officially sanctioned “body-snatching” provided vital, and until then hidden, evidence of radioactive contamination with widespread effects on human health. 

In the mid-1950s, CSIRO scientist Hedley Marston was tasked by the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee (AWTSC) with studying the radioactive iodine uptake in sheep and cattle as part of wider effort to monitor the biological effects of radiation caused by atomic-bomb testing in Australia. Marston argued that radioactive iodine found in the thyroids of animals indicated the presence of radioactive strontium in the food chain, which would endanger the health of humans, particularly children. Marston’s discovery put him in conflict with the AWTSC, who denied the tests resulted in significant radioactive contamination.

According to the Australian Health Ethics Committee, between 1957 and 1978, the AWTSC and its successor, the Australian Ionising Radiation Committee, covertly took samples of bones from 22,000 human remains during autopsy to test for the presence of strontium 90. The surviving samples located in 2001 suggested that radioactive contamination was far more widespread than previously admitted.

The winding down of the British nuclear testing program in Australia in 1953 did not bring an end to the Australian government’s role in the global nuclear industry. Since 1954, Australian uranium has supplied nuclear reactors around the world, including to the Fukushima reactor in Japan, which in 2011 was the site of the most severe nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown. Australia has also committed to acquiring nuclear-powered submarines to better pursue its imperial interests, and those of its allies, in the Asia-Pacific. And the nuclear industry is trying to promote itself as a viable alternative to polluting fossil fuel industries. 

Its shameful history, and the dire threat it poses to humanity, must not be forgotten. https://redflag.org.au/article/70-years-operation-hurricane-shameful-history-british-nuclear-tests-australia

October 17, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Energy Resources of Australia’s investor Willy Packer completely wrong on Jabiluka uranium

   https://gac-v3.katalyst.com.au/news_items/era-minorities-completely-wrong-on-jabilukaKirsten Blair, 10 Oct 122, The Mirarr Traditional Owners of the Ranger Uranium Mine totally reject the commentary of Energy Resources of Australia minor investor Willy Packer as completely wrong. Like ERA’s former Independent Board Committee, Mr Packer mistakenly considers the question of Jabiluka’s development as simply being about Traditional Owner consent.

Representing the Mirarr, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) seeks to bring clarity to the debate, including correcting misunderstandings about the contemporary significance of cultural heritage, insurmountable environmental and technical challenges at the site and the true costs of mining in the Kakadu region.

“It is simply wrong to say that anyone can just change their mind about Jabiluka in the future. This place is unique, Kakadu is World Heritage listed because of its value to the whole world. This isn’t about Traditional Owners agreeing to mining, they are defending heritage that matters to all of us. It is also wrong to ignore the fact that mining at Ranger produced a two-billion dollar clean-up bill. This is not just something interesting for valuers to toss around. What Packer wants is offensive to the majority of Australians,” CEO of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation Justin O’Brien said.

“It’s also wrong to ignore the scale of the rehabilitation. The task is massive. ERA must rehabilitate Ranger to a standard such that it may be incorporated into the surrounding national park. The company is obliged, among other requirements, to physically separate tailings from the environment for 10,000 years.

“Further mining in Kakadu National Park would be insane,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mr Packer has raised the prospect of the compensation of ERA’s minority shareholders. “Mr Packer is asking to be compensated for his wager on an impossible project. It’s nonsensical and contrary to standard business risk. This is why investors shouldn’t and don’t run mining companies.

“We are living in the 21st century; iconic cultural heritage of international significance is not up for negotiation. Our hearts go out to the Traditional Owners at Juukan Gorge. Their loss has focused the nation and indeed the international investment community on supporting Traditional Owners and protecting cultural heritage. Everyone wants to ensure Kakadu National Park is protected.

“Mr Packer needs to stop blaming Rio Tinto for his own ignorance about cultural heritage.  Of course, Rio Tinto, now knows better after Juukan Gorge.”

Mr O’Brien said the role of directors within ERA is to be perfectly honest with the market, including all minor investors. “Unlike many other proposed projects on Aboriginal land, Jabiluka is utterly impossible – it is unfeasible both culturally and technically. Rio Tinto has acknowledged this. It is hardly a secret.

“Mr Packer has complained of something having gone “terribly wrong” with his gamble at Jabiluka. In fact, the only thing ‘terribly wrong’ has been the false hope of ignorant investors.”

October 10, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Barngarla people say NO to a nuclear waste dump

NITV – The Point, September 18, 2022)

September 17, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

One legal win for Aboriginal people in South Australia gives hope to the Barngarla people who are fighting the Kimba nuclear waste dump plan

Nuclear waste site in spotlight following Barngarla court win, Traditional Owners say they fear the destruction that an accident at the waste dump could cause to Country.

By Keira Jenkins, Source: The Point,, 6 SEP 2022,

Barngarla Traditional Owners are fighting for access to a number of federal government documents regarding the proposed nuclear waste facility near Kimba, South Australia.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) and its lawyers have requested the documents that the federal government relied on to choose the 900 hectare site more than 400 kilometres north-west of Adelaide

The argument over the documents is part of a federal court challenge launched by Barngarla people.

Jason Bilney is the chair of the BDAC. He told NITV Barngarla people were not properly consulted about the facility, and were excluded from a community ballot.

“It’s very disrespectful, very hurtful to my people as a community and to my past and present Elders,” he said.

“It’s a disgrace.”

After the Supreme Court overturned authorisation to drill on South Australia’s Lake Torrens last week, Barngarla people are hopeful their fight can lead to protection for the Kimba site as well. 

Mr Bilney is joined in the fight against the facility by Lez and Dawn Taylor, who grew up in Kimba.

Standing at the site, which has been fenced off, Dawn Taylor said she’s deeply upset that nuclear waste could be stored on this Country……………………………..

Government officials didn’t talk to the Barngarla people for the study.

Barngarla Elder Harry Dare said the Traditional Owners of the Country should have been involved in this study.

“We know what’s on our Country, they choose not to let us go and have a look at that Country but we already know what’s out there,” he said.

‘I still feel strong’

But regardless of what has occurred up to this point, Jason Bilney said Barngarla people will continue to fight for their Country.

“[The government] think they’re going to put [the facility] there, they’ve still got a long drawn out process and for any government, it doesn’t look good to go against First Nations people,” he said.

“I still feel strong, I still feel proud to keep up this fight for our people, being up there and doing it for our community.

“It has taken its toll for a lot of our family. It’s sad but we’ve got to keep going.”

Barngarla woman Linda Dare said she hopes this fight means the voices of her people will be heard.

“We want them to stop what they’re doing, we want them to listen to us and hear us, take the time to sit down and listen and talk to us not disrespect us and put waste up on our Country,” she said.

September 6, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

Is the Australian government aware of the human rights implications of the ill-chosen Kimba nuclear waste dump plan?

Peter Remta 3 Sept 22, Dr Marcos Orellana being the special rapporteur mandated as to the human rights
implications of toxic and nuclear waste is gravely concerned about the Australian
government’s proposals for Kimba which have been heightened by refusing his
proposed visit to Australia and the production of all appropriate documents.

In view of this I understand that he will be reporting the situation to the United Nations
Human Rights Commissioner which in turn will bring it before the full body of the United
Nations and may I add that this is being done with a view to embarrassing Australia at
the behest as I predicted of many of our Pacific islands “friendly” neighbours

What is interesting about the Kimba situation for the special rapporteur is that it does
not involve the rights of a minority group but covers the entire general community of the
region and that from information gained by him a large majority of South Australia’s
population is strongly against the federal government’s proposals for nuclear waste
management in that state.

Put bluntly this is the end of the Kimba proposal as in light of the foregoing IAEA and
other international bodies will prevent any licensing or other progress with the
government’s proposals with the appropriate public criticisms for justification.

There must be something clearly afoot as I understand that some European human
rights lawyers are already looking at possible actions within appropriate human rights
courts in Europe against the Australian government which invariably have a very low
standard of proving a successful claim.

My educated guess would be an award of €500 million against the Australian
government which again is another outgoing it can ill afford
I wonder how much of this is known by the federal government particularly at
ministerial level.

September 3, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Nuclear bomb tests at Emu Field remain obscured by Maralinga and the mists of time

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-24/nuclear-testing-at-emu-field-featured-in-new-book/101329172 ABC Radio Adelaide / By Daniel Keane, 22 Aug 22,

In hindsight, Michael Parkinson’s TV talk show hardly seems the likeliest forum for sober reflection on nuclear annihilation. 

But in 1971, the celebrity interviewer welcomed onto his celebrated stage journalist James Cameron, a man who had, 18 years earlier, witnessed the first atomic blast at Emu Field in outback South Australia.

Nuclear weapons, he told Parkinson, were “the ultimate punctuation mark” in humanity’s “progress towards perdition”.

The words echoed his front-page report for The Age on October 16, 1953 — the day after the test:

“The familiar mushroom column climbed unsteadily for 15,000 feet, leaned and dropped, and the world stumbled one more step towards the twilight.”

Codenamed Totem, the two Emu Field bomb tests have, in the view of James Cook University author Elizabeth Tynan, been regarded for too long as mere precursors to the more notorious detonations at Maralinga.

Her new book seeks to correct this by establishing Operation Totem as a portentous episode in its own right.

“The tests there pre-dated Maralinga by three years and they caused enormous difficulty and disruption and tragedy to the Aboriginal people of the Western Desert,” Dr Tynan said.

The Secret of Emu Field is the product of extensive archival excavation, including in the United Kingdom.

Amid Cold War hardships and anxieties, British officials were desperate to develop an affordable nuclear arsenal for their new fleet of jet bombers.

“They were looking to create a workable weapon; I call it the austerity bomb,” Dr Tynan said.

“They wanted to do it quickly because they had the V bombers coming, they had a number of political pressures and geopolitical pressures as well.”

Among several remarkable occurrences at Emu Field was the flight of a Royal Air Force Canberra bomber through the Totem 1 mushroom cloud barely six minutes after detonation.

“In colour it was a dark red-brown,” Wing Commander Geoffrey Dhenin, who enthusiastically piloted the plane, later wrote.

“Until just before we emerged, the forces on the elevators increased to such an extent that I thought I might lose control.”

One of the aims of that mission was to determine the threat from fallout in atmospheric testing to commercial airline traffic.

In an unforeseen irony, the atomic cloud from Totem 1 — which kept its mushroom shape “for 24 hours because of wind conditions” — was spotted by airline passengers passing over Oodnadatta.

The black mist

Today, it isn’t a cloud but a mist that remains one of the few aspects of the Totem tests to endure in the collective consciousness.

The so-called “black mist” was reported by nearby Aboriginal communities, but it wasn’t until a 1980 report by The Advertiser that it came to public attention.

The 1985 royal commission into British nuclear tests was equivocal on the health effects, but concluded that “Aboriginal people experienced radioactive fallout from Totem 1 in the form of a black mist or cloud at and near Wallatinna”.

Bruce Lennon was a young boy at the time and likened the impact to “having a really bad flu”.

“We were close to Emu Field; dad was a contractor, we did a lot of moving around,” he said.

Also in the area, at Mabel Creek station, was the family of Sister Kenise Neill.

“My father at the time of the Emu Field [tests] would have been 22. There’s a story that my grandmother used to tell about him,” she recalled.

“He was out fencing with Aboriginal people around the station and came home covered in a black, slimy, greasy stuff.”

Murray Neill was 24 when he died in 1956.

His daughter said it was now almost impossible to know whether the story told by her grandmother was an account of fallout.

“I didn’t really know about Emu Fields … and because our family had left before the [later] Maralinga testing, it didn’t make sense,” Sister Neill said.

“I presumed the black fallout with my dad wasn’t nuclear.

“It’s really only through reading Elizabeth Tynan’s book that I thought that my dad could have actually died from radiation.”

The persistence of secrets

The black mist may have dissipated, but other mists still cloud the Totem tests.

Dr Tynan said British files she inspected during her research had since been “withdrawn from public view”, and that there were unanswered questions about the second test and the plutonium fuel.

“The Operation Totem tests at Emu Field were intended as a comparative trial to test two different kinds of nuclear fuel,” Dr Tynan said.

I can’t say that I ever got to the bottom of what was happening with Totem 2. From the documents I’ve seen, [it] was a very, very secret weapon.”

By the time of the second test on October 27, James Cameron and the rest of the press pack had long since departed.

But the bomb had left its mark on Cameron’s mind.

In a piece published the day after he died, in the same year as the royal commission into British tests, Cameron reflected on the nuclear age with typical grace and resignation:

“I personally witnessed the explosion of atom bombs, and did nothing about it, and could do nothing except protest, tiresomely and uselessly.”

This article is the second in a two-part series, the first of which focused on the tests at Maralinga.

August 25, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, history, reference, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Traditional owners seek documents in nuclear dump case

The Transcontinental. By Tim Dornin, August 15 2022 ,

Traditional owners have asked for wide-ranging access to federal government documents as part of their efforts to block the construction of a nuclear waste dump in South Australia.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation is engaged in Federal Court action seeking to stop the proposed dump at Napandee, near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula.

On Monday their lawyers outlined the reasons why the government should hand over a considerable volume of material it relied on in choosing the site and in preparing supportive legislation.

Some of the most contentious material related to correspondence the applicants contend must have taken place between then resources minister Keith Pitt and his department.

Others related to commitments the previous government made not to impose the dump on an unwilling community.

But the Commonwealth argued the Barngarla had been given a “complete record of the decision-making process” and what was being asked for went far beyond an orthodox judicial review.

“They should focus their efforts upon minister Pitt’s conduct rather than essentially seeking to have a royal commission into the cacophony that surrounds the drafting of legislation and the announcement of particular political decisions,” the court was told.

Justice Natalie Charlesworth indicated she was mindful to allow discovery of some of the material, regarding it relevant to the case.

However, she asked the parties to negotiate further to potentially narrow the scope of the documents being sought, particularly in two of the seven categories outlined.

Justice Charlesworth also cautioned that while production of the documents might be ordered, whether or not they proved admissible in the substantive case, now likely to be heard in March next year, was yet to be determined.

The case will return to court next week.

The Barngarla launched their action last year seeking to overturn the coalition government’s decision to develop the dump by quashing the ministerial declaration.

The corporation also recently wrote to new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urging him to scrap plans for the dump.

It said the previous federal government had tried to silence the traditional owners at every turn, denying their right to participate in a community ballot to gauge local support for the site.

The corporation said the coalition also refused access to the land to undertake a proper heritage survey and tried to remove its right to judicial review.

Ahead of Monday’s hearing, Barngarla chairman Jason Bilney said it was hoped the new federal government would quickly realise how badly the former government handled the project.

“We fought 21 years to win our native title and if we have to fight 21 years to stop this nuclear waste dump damaging our country, then we will have to do it,” he said…… more https://www.transcontinental.com.au/story/7861791/traditional-owners-seek-docs-in-dump-case/

August 16, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Australian War Memorial needs to own Australian frontier wars

Pearls and Irritations, By David Stephens Aug 7, 2022 Proper recognition and commemoration of the Australian Frontier Wars at the Australian War Memorial would be a practical expression of the Spirit of Uluru. As the Albanese government begins the lengthy process of enshrining the Voice in the Australian Constitution, having the Memorial commit to Australian Frontier Wars recognition and commemoration could happen soon – provided the will exists in both the Memorial and the government.

…………………………………… What is needed?

First, the Memorial should have an Australian Frontier Wars Gallery as part of the 2.5 hectares of additional space being built in the current extensions project. Professor Henry Reynolds has described the Frontier Wars as Australia’s most important war. The Frontier Wars deserve equal status at the Memorial with the First and Second World Wars, which each have designated galleries. The extensions should never have proceeded but, now that they seem inevitable, reserving space in them for an Australian Frontier Wars Gallery would reduce the area available for a military Disneyland full of Large Technology Objects and machines that go ‘bang!’

Secondly, the Memorial needs to add a prominent panel to its Roll of Honour to commemorate the dead of the Frontier Wars, both First Nations and non-First Nations. It will be impossible to include individual First Nations names, beyond perhaps those of leaders like Jandamarra, Pemulwuy, and Tongerlongeter – that White Australians do not know the names is poignantly significant – but the depth of the commitment of these First Nations warriors (and the suffering of their families, who often died with them) should be recorded in words like those used elsewhere in the Memorial. Lest We Forget.

Thirdly, the words ‘Australian Frontier Wars’ should be carved into the walls of the Memorial surrounding the Pool of Reflection. These words would stand alongside places like Gallipoli, Palestine, France, North Africa, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan, but would go first, reflecting the fact that the Frontier Wars were our first wars, without which Australia would not be what it is today.

These forms of recognition and commemoration are much more decisive and less devious than what the Memorial has done previously: finding and publicising examples of Indigenous men and women who have worn the King’s/Queen’s uniform since 1901; buying and commissioning expensive paintings of massacres of First Nations people; a John Schumann ballad; a sculpture in the grounds; the special exhibition For Country, For Nation……………………………………….

Three options

How would these changes at the Memorial be made? There are three options, not mutually exclusive……………………………

Whichever option or options are used, we need, on the government side, courage to pull aside the ‘Anzac cloak’ that has for so long protected the Memorial from proper accountability and full responsiveness to modern Australia. On the Memorial side, we need willingness to make the place less a military mausoleum and trophy house – run mostly by white blokes with a military background and catering primarily for uniformed service people (particularly recent ones) – and more the possession of all Australians, First Nations and non-First Nations.

David Stephens is editor of the Honest History website (honesthistory.net.au) and joint editor with Alison Broinowski of The Honest History Book (2017). He has been convener of the Heritage Guardians group campaigning against the $548m extensions to the Australian War Memorial.  https://johnmenadue.com/australian-war-memorial-needs-to-own-australian-frontier-wars/

August 8, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Time to speak up: water apartheid is Australia’s dirty secret

Canberra Times By Erin O’Donnell, Kirsty Howey, July 4 2022

Imagine, in Australia, having to buy bottled water just so you can have clean water to drink. Imagine in 2022, in Australia, Aboriginal communities still have to do that, because they don’t have access to safe drinking water supplies.

While the 2022 NAIDOC week theme is get up, stand up, and show up, that’s an instruction for all of us.

All Australians need to get up, stand up, show up and speak up about this national shame.

In the Northern Territory, drinking water in remote communities regularly breaches guidelines for uranium, and heavy metals. It makes people sick. In Western Australia, the Auditor-General found 24 communities still require the government to truck in bottled water, as local supplies contain harmful contaminants, including uranium. In Queensland, remote, largely Indigenous, townships have faced ongoing water quality issues. Further south, NSW communities also struggled with water quality during the recent drought, and a 2022 study found towns and communities with higher Aboriginal populations and lower income levels were less likely to have access to free sources of filtered water within the community.

In the NT, predominantly white towns such as Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine have a regulated and safe drinking water supply, but in Indigenous communities drinking water supply is unregulated, with many residents needing to resort to buying bottled water. And far from being an unavoidable consequence of life in remote communities, this is the result of ongoing failure by successive NT governments to plug gaps in water regulation.

………………………………………… The new Labor government’s commitment to restoring a National Water Commission must end water apartheid in Australia. The commission cannot come too soon for northern Australia, where this disaster is unfolding.  https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7804335/time-to-speak-up-water-apartheid-is-australias-dirty-secret/

July 7, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment | Leave a comment

Nuclear test survivors’ plea for Australia to sign treaty, as they speak at UN meeting

ABC North and West SA / 21 June 22, By Bethanie Alderson  Three generations of First Nations survivors of historic nuclear tests have told the United Nations that Australia must do more to address the devastating impact the tests have had on their families. 

Key points:

  • Three First Nations survivors of nuclear testing share their stories at a United Nations meeting
  • They are calling on the Australian government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
  • The survivors say they are facing intergenerational trauma from nuclear tests carried out in the 1950s in outback South Australia

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) invited survivors to address a conference in Vienna, more than 60 years after nuclear bombs were detonated in the South Australian outback.

Yankunytjatjara woman Karina Lester, Kokatha elder Sue Coleman-Haseldine and her granddaughter, Mia Haseldine, shared their experiences via video link from Port Augusta.

The women told the conference how the tests conducted by the British government at Maralinga and Emu Field in the 1950s had affected the health of successive generations of Aboriginal families from the region.

They called on the Australian government to sign the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which came into force in January last year.

Intergenerational toll

Survivor June Lennon, who was in the audience, said she was only a week old when her father covered her with a tarp to protect her from a nuclear blast at Emu Field.

She told the ABC her family would continue to suffer physical and mental trauma from the testing for generations to come.

“Most of our grandchildren have got pretty bad eyesight, and we were born basically with epilepsy,” Ms Lennon said.

“It’s quite likely that I’m going to die because I’ve got bleeding from my kidneys.

“We want to live. We want our children to live after us. We’re losing them at really young ages now and some of that is mental health issues.”………………

‘We still eat the bush tucker’ in test zone

Ms Haseldine outlined gaps she believed the government needed to address to support the next generation of survivors, including a commitment to greater research and education with Aboriginal communities on the impact of the testing.

“If we can somehow link those scientists or researchers studying DNA into people that live on community, eat food from this community,” Ms Haseldine said.

“We still eat the bush tucker that’s out there where fallout probably landed.”

Last year, Australian researchers found that radioactive particles released during the nuclear tests remained highly reactive.

Second-generation survivor Karina Lester noted in her presentation the importance of language for Aboriginal communities who never gave consent to the testing.

Our mob were not informed of those tests that were about to take place on their traditional lands,” Ms Lester said.

“It’s important for information to be in traditional language so they know of the impacts it has on our bodies and our environment.”…………………………….    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-20/nuclear-test-survivors-plea-for-australia-to-sign-treaty/101167332

June 21, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Earthworks approved for nuclear waste dump despite opposition from traditional owners, court hears

Barngarla traditional owners vie to overturn federal government’s decision to develop site near Kimba in South Australia

Australian Associated Press, Wed 15 Jun 2022 

Traditional owners attempting to block the construction of a nuclear waste dump in South Australia have told a court the federal government has already approved plans to begin earthworks, despite an active legal challenge.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation applied for a judicial review of the project in December, and a directions hearing was held in the federal court in Adelaide on Wednesday.

Legal argument will be heard in July ahead of a substantive hearing, most likely before the end of this year. The court was told that there were plans to begin earthworks at the Napandee site, near Kimba on SA’s Eyre Peninsula, before September…….

Justice Natalie Charlesworth asked that sufficient notice be provided to allow time for the court to hear applications to halt the works. Charlesworth said such notice would avoid the need for an urgent hearing.

“What I would like to avoid is what I might call a pyjama hearing where it’s called at midnight and we all come in here in our pyjamas and we have an unnecessarily urgent argument,” she said.

The Barngarla are seeking to overturn the Coalition government’s decision to develop the site by quashing the declaration of former resources minister Keith Pitt.

The corporation also wrote to the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, and the resources minister, Madeleine King, a week after the federal election, urging them to scrap plans for the dump.

It said the previous federal government had tried to silence the traditional owners at every turn, denying their right to participate in a community ballot to gauge local support for the site.

The corporation said the Coalition also refused access to the land to undertake a proper heritage survey and tried to remove its right to judicial review.

“Although we appreciate all that Labor have done in opposition, the Barngarla people unequivocally make it clear that we request that the new Labor minister revoke the declaration or consent to the orders quashing the declaration,” it wrote in its letter to Albanese.

The Labor government has given no indication that it would take a different view on the matter than the previous administration.  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jun/15/earthworks-approved-for-nuclear-waste-dump-despite-opposition-from-traditional-owners-court-hears

June 16, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Nuclear Waste Dispute in Court Wednesday 15 June 

Kimba Radioactive Waste Facility Judicial Review in Federal Court. Wednesday 15 June 2022:
initial directions hearing and hearing on discovery

Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC ICN 8603 
• The first directions hearing will occur in the Federal Court of Australia this Wednesday at
9:00am in Adelaide, with some solicitors and counsel attending by MS Teams.
• The directions hearing will start off the long process of judicial review on the facility.
• An immediate issue is that the former Minister Pitt would not provide the Barngarla
documents Barngarla needed for the judicial review. It is not clear what the new Labor
Minister’s position is now that they have won Government.
• The dispute on discovery includes records of all of the commitments Minister Pitt and
Minister Canavan made that a facility would not be placed on an unwilling community.
Minister Pitt abandoned this requirement in his reasons when he made the declaration to
select Napandee.

The Government is refusing to provide these records and the matter may now need to be
argued as a contested discovery application.
• Any dispute on discovery is likely to take several months.
• Barngarla, Indigenous leaders around Australia, and the environmental movement have all
called for the declaration to be withdrawn now that Labor has won Government.
Barngarla spokesperson quote:
“There were serious failings when the National Party selected Napandee, too many to outline of the area, trying to legislate away judicial review, breaching UNDRIP and abandoning the test ofbroad community support at the last minute without any warning to anyone. The former Ministerwouldn’t provide us the material we need to run our case. Leaving aside these tricks and theseefforts to exhaust us, we remain confident that we will win this if we have to go to Court. However,because of the terrible mishandling by the National Party, we again call upon the new Labor Ministerto quash the declaration. We do not want to spend the next two years in Court against the LaborGovernment. They know what the National Party did and they should do the right thing andwithdraw the declaration.”
For further comment, please contact: barngarlamedia@gmail.comhere.They included, denying the First Peoples the right to vote, not conducting a proper heritage survey

June 14, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, legal | Leave a comment

Indigenous owners call on the Labor government to scrap the nuclear waste dump plan

Bega District News, By Tim Dornin, June 1 2022 Traditional owners have called on the new federal Labor government to scrap plans for a nuclear waste dump in South Australia.

In December the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation launched legal action in the Federal Court to block the dump planned for Napandee, near Kimba.

It was seeking to overturn the Coalition government’s decision to develop the site by quashing the declaration of former resources minister Keith Pitt.

On Wednesday the corporation wrote to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urging him to step in.

It said the previous government had tried to silence the traditional owners at every turn, denying their right to participate in a community ballot to gauge local support for the site.

The corporation said the coalition also refused access to the land to undertake a proper heritage survey and tried to remove its right to judicial review.

“Although we appreciate all that Labor have done in opposition, the Barngarla people unequivocally make it clear that we request that the new Labor minister revoke the declaration or consent to the orders quashing the declaration,” it wrote in its letter to the PM.

“We call for this to occur at the earliest opportunity possible.”

The Barngarla said if the facility was built it would forever be located on a site where the First People did not get the right to vote.

“For these reasons we think that the government and country that you now lead needs to withdraw the declaration or consent to it being quashed,” the group told Mr Albanese.

“We see no other way.

“These are clearly not your failings or the failings of your government. You inherited them like we did.”

The Barngarla’s action is due to resume in the Federal Court on June 15.

In November last year, the previous government announced it had acquired 211 hectares at Napandee with the proposed facility subject to heritage, design and technical studies……..https://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/7763627/labor-urged-to-scrap-nuclear-dump/

June 2, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Stop Deep Yellow: No uranium mining on Upurli Upurli Nguratja country

 https://www.ccwa.org.au/mulga_rock The Mulga Rock uranium project is the only uranium proposal being advanced in WA. The project is uneconomic, unwanted and unnecessary.

Mulga Rock is on Upurli Upurli Nguratja country in the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological community in the Great Victoria Desert (GVD) and home to the endangered Sandhill Dunnart – one of three remaining areas where the species is found in Australia. The area is also home to the endangered Southern Marsupial Mole the vulnerable Crest Tailed Mulgara and Desert Skink, the migratory Rainbow Bee-Eater and many other priority species. 

Vimy Resources are seeking to merge with uranium miner Deep Yellow. Deep Yellow’s leadership is a cause for Deep concern. Their Chairperson Chris Salisbury was the Iron Ore boss at Rio Tinto during the Juukan Gorge destruction. Deep Yellow’s Managing Director John Borshoff was the Director of uranium company Paladin. During his leadership there were ongoing reports of industrial disputes worker fatalities and environmental concerns. 

“I worry about that country and what effect uranium mining would have on it, there is no other area like it. Once that’s destroyed and poisoned well how can you replace all that. It’ll be gone forever.” Janice Scott – Nangaanya-ku 

There is a registered Native Title Claim over the area – Upurli Upurli Nguratja. Vimy have routinely undermined Native Title interests in the area and have failed to meet the claim group. The Spinifex people who are descendants of some of Australia’s first environmental refugees who fled South Australia during the British atomic weapons tests between 1956 and 1963 and settled near Mulga Rock first at Cundallee then Coonana and then Tjutjuntjarra. There are strong connections to the area and a strong history of impact and resistance to the nuclear industry.   

“We don’t want uranium mining. We’ve written to government to let them know we the Traditional Owners have not been consulted. The current clearing at the site is disrespectful and shows a total lack of social value, moral and ethical leadership.” Debbie Carmody – Upurli Upurli Nguratja 

The Proposal: 

  • Four open pits, strip mined and backfilled
  • Licensed to take 15 million litres of water per day
  • Would produce 32 million tonnes of radioactive mine waste
  • Would clear 3,709 ha of native vegetation
  • Located in the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community, known as one of the most pristine areas in the Great Victoria Desert.
  • Home to the endangered Sandhill Dunnart
  • Upstream from the Queen Victoria A Class Nature Reserve

May 28, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment