Australian news, and some related international items

2020 in Australia – a successful year for resistance to nuclear pollution

DAVE SWEENEY | Nuclear Free Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation |   15 Dec 20,

A year ago today the then federal resources/radioactive waste Minister Matt Canavan read the room in the Flinders Ranges and stated: “I will no longer consider this site an option for the facility”.

Viva!! This decision was a great tribute to Adnyamathanha, the FLAG crew and wider community resistance.

In the year since

  • Canberra has turned to Kimba where they are facing a stiff fight and have failed in an attempt to rewrite the laws to remove people’s right to legally challenge the waste plan
  • SA Labor, Unions SA and many more civil society groups and state and national voices have come on board against the waste plan
  • The Australian Human Rights Commission acknowledged the three sisters – Vivianne and Regina McKenzie and Heather Stuart as Human Rights Heroes for their radwaste efforts
  • ARPANSA – the federal nuclear regulator – has confirmed that Australia’s worst waste can securely remain at Lucas Heights ‘for decades”
  • Matt Canavan is gone and we have a new Minister – the sixth in as many years – if radioactive waste had the same longevity as federal ministers it wouldn’t be an issue.
  • Collectively we are stalling the deeply flawed federal plan and shifting the story from the search for a postcode to the need for a credible process

Congratulations to all those who successfully defended the Flinders – and strength to those now actively contesting the dodgy Kimba plan.


December 15, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, opposition to nuclear, politics | Leave a comment

Farmers to Canberra, to protest the law that forces a nuclear dump on Kimba’s agriculutral land

We are members of the Kimba community and proud and productive grain farmers who have travelled to Canberra to meet with Labor, Green and cross-bench Senators to put a face to those directly impacted by the proposed legislation to name Kimba as the site for Australia’s radioactive waste dump.

In our view the process the Government has employed to site this facility in Kimba over the last five years has been unfair, manipulative and completely lacking in transparency.

We are extremely concerned that the Governments proposed legislation  currently awaiting Senate consideration intentionally removes our right to contest the decision and denies basic protections .

It is clear that productive farming land in Kimba is not the best, or even the right place for our nations radioactive waste. We urge the federal government to step back and review their selection process rather than continue trying to force this decision through via Parliament.

Quotes can be attributed to Toni Scott – Secretary, No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA Committee  Media Contact – Kellie Hunt – 0428 572 411

November 9, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, opposition to nuclear, politics | Leave a comment

Farmers, Traditional Owners fight radioactive waste dump

Farmers, Traditional Owners fight radioactive waste dump, Renfrey Clarke, Adelaide, September 8, 2020

In a marginal grain-growing district of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, construction for a national repository for Australia’s radioactive wastes will begin soon — or so the federal government hopes.

A 160-hectare tract of farmland has been purchased near the small town of Kimba and, as inducement to deliver support for the plan, local residents have been promised a $31 million “community development package.” A non-binding ballot conducted last November among residents of the Kimba District Council area recorded 62% in favour of the scheme.

But opponents of the dump remain active and vocal. As well as farmers and townsfolk concerned for their safety and for the “clean and green” reputation of the district’s produce, those against the plan include the Barngarla First Nations people, who hold native title over the area.

Critics argue that last year’s ballot sought the views of only a narrow section of the people affected. In particular, members of the Barngarla people, who do not live locally, are angry at being excluded.

The federal Coalition government, however, has not been deterred. In June, the House of Representatives passed a set of amendments to the legislation governing the scheme. These changes would strip opponents of the dump — including the Barngarla — of the right to mount legal challenges.

The amendments still have to pass through the Senate. But, confident of victory, in July the government set up the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency as part of the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. With its base in Adelaide, and a satellite office in Kimba, the agency is to “lead the process to deliver” the waste dump.

Low and intermediate-level wastes

In volume terms, the great bulk of the radioactive waste currently produced in Australia results from nuclear medicine, and is considered low-level. These materials do not require shielding in handling or storage, but must be kept secure until the radioactivity has decayed to the point where they can safely go to landfill. At present, these wastes are stored at more than 100 sites around the country, mostly in hospitals or universities.

The amount of low-level waste created here each year is about 40 cubic metres, roughly three truckloads, suggesting that the need to collect these materials into a centralised store is questionable.

More than likely, the risks of shifting these wastes exceed those of keeping them where they are for the decades needed until their radioactivity falls to natural background levels.

There are also intermediate-level wastes. These accumulate at a rate of about five cubic metres a year, and are in a very different category. Highly dangerous, they require shielding, and must be kept secure for as long as 10,000 years. They consist almost entirely of spent nuclear fuel from the research reactor at Lucas Heights, near Sydney, returned after reprocessing in Europe and currently stored on the reactor premises.

The waste dump planned for the farm property Napandee, near Kimba, is meant to provide a permanent home for Australia’s low-level wastes — but not for the intermediate-level materials. The latter are to be held in above-ground canisters at the facility until permanent storage provisions have been made.

Will this “interim” storage turn out to be permanent?

Kimba is remote enough that the temptation will be great for governments to leave these dangerous, long-lasting materials there indefinitely.

Meanwhile, if the Napandee dump is to hold the intermediate-level wastes for only a few decades, where is the need to move these materials there at all? The store at Lucas Heights has room to hold the wastes for many years to come, while permanent disposal methods are being devised and tested. Simply keeping the materials on site would avoid the risks of multiple handling and long-distance transport.

Community rifts

In Kimba, the social rifts from years-long disagreements over the dump remain painful. Many local people look to the facility to sustain a town that is steadily declining as farmers are compelled to “get big or get out”, and as the regional population shrinks.

Farmer Heather Baldock, who supports the dump, lamented to a Senate committee hearing in August: “We lose students, youth, neighbours, friends, sporting club members, emergency service volunteers … We gain more empty houses and property for sale.”

The federal government has suggested that a total of 45 jobs will be created by the facility — a big boost for a town of barely 600 people. Many of these jobs, however, will likely be part–time, or will be performed on a fly-in-fly-out basis.

The $31 million community package will create excellent town amenities, but not a long–term basis for the local economy. It will not solve the worst problem confronting regions like northern Eyre Peninsula: global warming, which raises temperatures, reduces already sparse rainfall and sends farmers into crippling debt.Opponents of the dump, meanwhile, speak bitterly of the deceits by a government determined to impose its scheme regardless of local objections.

Farmer Peter Woolford, who heads the group No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA, told the Senate hearing: “The path that the federal government has taken … has been a long road of propaganda, manipulation and promises without justification.”

The flow of information to the community, Woolford noted, has been tightly controlled and almost entirely narrated by the department. “No assistance, practical or financial, has been given to provide independent advice. Every speaker who has visited Kimba at the expense of the government has been a supporter of the proposal.”

Ballot manipulation

Opponents of the scheme are especially angry at the way the terms of last year’s ballot were manipulated. Rejecting a call for voting to be open to all residents within a 50-kilometre radius — a far more meaningful measure of the people for whom Kimba is the local hub — the government and the Kimba District Council insisted on the smaller area within the council boundaries. If the 50-kilometre boundary had applied, critics argue, the vote would have failed.

Particularly impressive has been the resolve of the Barngarla people to have their say in deciding the outcome. In 2018, the Barngarla fought and lost a court case against the district council, demanding to be included in the prospective ballot.

Excluded from the official vote, the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation organised its own independently-run ballot. This recorded a total of 83 members against the dump and zero in favour. A recent letter from the Barngarla to the federal resources minister stated: “The systematic racist behaviour by your government is a stain on the collective consciousness of this country.”

In any case, opponents of the dump ask why “community support” for the dump should be measured only by the views of a few hundred people. Why should the decision not be one for the whole population of South Australia — where indications are that the idea of hosting a radioactive waste dump is highly unpopular?

As Woolford pointed out, of 2789 submissions received in a public consultation 94.5% oppose the facility.

September 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

‘Nuclear will never happen in the Latrobe Valley’

Nuclear discussion is a hot topic in the Latrobe Valley, Latrobe Valley Express, Michelle Slater, 26 Aug 20,  “……..

‘Nuclear will never happen in the Latrobe Valley’

The call to lift the state’s prohibition on nuclear is not being backed by all unions, as some community groups come out swinging against any nuclear proposal in the Latrobe Valley.

Many concerns surrounded the region’s geographical instability, the use of water, dangerous waste and the need to forge ahead with large-scale renewables.

The Victorian branch of the Electrical Trades Union doubled down on its opposition in its submission into the Inquiry into Nuclear Prohibition.

It instead called for large scale renewables such as the Star of the South offshore wind farm off the Gippsland coast to provide a just transition for workers and communities.

“Renewable energy is affordable, low risk, clean, and popular. Nuclear is simply not,” the ETU submission said.

“Our shared energy future is renewable, not radioactive and our government must plan for and support a fair and just transition for energy workers, their communities and the Australian people.”

Voices of the Valley convenor Wendy Farmer backed the ETU stance, rejecting claims from the CFMMEU that nuclear would provide a “just transition” for the Valley.

Ms Farmer also rigorously argued that there was no social licence from within the local community to go ahead with nuclear.

She said any nuclear plant in the Valley, particularly if it was built on the former Hazelwood site, would be too close to homes in a seismically unstable location.

“Nuclear will never happen in the

Latrobe Valley, it’s too expensive and will take too long to build. Do we just care about jobs and not a healthy community? This would impact all of Gippsland,” Ms Farmer said.

“Yes, we need a proper transition and secure energy, but nuclear is not the way to go when we need the federal government’s will to build more renewables.”

Community over Mining spokesperson Tracey Anton has voiced her concerns about using water to rehabilitate the Latrobe Valley’s coal mines.

The community advocate said nuclear was unsuitable for the region due to the volume of water it would require, creating a burden on downstream agriculture and environmental needs.

“We’ve already over-allocated our ground and surface water, how do you fit in another industry that needs more water when we don’t have enough as it is,” Ms Anton said.

“The (state) government can’t even figure out how to rehabilitate the existing coal pits, or even how to transport asbestos safely, never mind nuclear.”

Friends of the Earth’s Yes2Renewables campaigner Patrick Simons has been working with the local proponents for the proposed Delburn wind farm, helping campaign for renewables in Gippsland.

Mr Simons said the conversations around nuclear were a “distraction” from discussing rolling out renewables in a decentralised grid.

“There is surplus grid capacity in Gippsland,” he said.

“Renewable energy built in the region will complement wind power operating in western Victoria, where the grid is constrained, making the energy system overall more resilient.”……..

nuclear power remains unlawful in Australia under federal legislation.

The Victorian government has no plans for a nuclear power industry, which has been banned since 1983 and is instead focusing on “cheaper, safer and more sustainable alternatives in the form of renewable energy and storage”.

A state government spokeswoman pointed to Victoria’s ambitious 50 per cent renewables targets by 2030, creating more than 24,000 jobs, “particularly in regional areas”……..

August 27, 2020 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Victoria | Leave a comment

A nuclear power station is inappropriate for the Central Coast


March 23, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Nature Conservation Council says the Nationals’ support for nuclear power is a “dangerous and expensive distraction”

March 7, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, opposition to nuclear, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear free has served NSW well and should remain- Australian Conservation Foundation

Nuclear free has served NSW well and should remain,   Nuclear power has no role in Australia’s energy future and is a dangerous distraction from the climate challenges facing Australia.

A pro-nuclear NSW upper house inquiry initiated by One Nation MLC Mark Latham has recommended removing the state’s long-standing legislative ban on uranium mining and opening the door to nuclear power, but Labor committee members have reaffirmed their party’s opposition to uranium mining and nuclear energy.

The inquiry report recommends the repeal of the Uranium Mining and Nuclear Facilities (Prohibitions) Act, but a dissenting statement by Labor committee members says a ‘Labor Government will maintain a ban on uranium exploration, extraction and export’ and a ‘Labor Government will not introduce nuclear power in NSW’.

The Australian Conservation Foundation said Australia was blessed with outstanding renewable resources and did not need to explore dangerous nuclear energy options.  “The state ban on uranium mining has served NSW well and should remain,” said ACF nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney.

March 5, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, opposition to nuclear, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear Stigma is, and will continue to be the cancer that erodes Kimba future.

Paul Waldon Fight To Stop A Nuclear Waste Dump In South Australia, 10 Feb 2020 

“Them or us, a shit town and a policeman on the fence.”

Kimba farmer / nuclear profiteer, Andrew Baldock who has recklessly fueled the ongoing promotion to degrade a agriculture region is now pleading for the community to reunite. This maybe seen as Baldock’s failed solicitation to procure redemption, forgiveness or clemency for the irremediable damage ignorantly portrayed upon what is mostly a nobbled and unwilling community.

Sunday the 2nd of February anti-nuclear rally, portrayed attending people as welcome contributing visitors to the town until their views of nuclear were apparent only to find they were treated no better than a leper in Kimba’s colony. One local person and yes I say one, that being of the local constabulary claimed to be on the fence and treated people with regard, where the nuclear embracing dichotomy has failed to welcome.

Nuclear Stigma is, and will continue to be the cancer that erodes Kimba future.

February 10, 2020 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Australia | Leave a comment

Strong opposition to nuclear waste dump plan for Flinders Ranges

South Australia’s nuclear dump deadline looms large, Newcastle Herald, Amy Green, 11 Dec 19  

South Australia’s Flinders Ranges nuclear waste ballot closes tomorrow.

Thousands of people have signed an open letter to the federal government asking it not to proceed with the current plan.   The Australian Conservation Foundation is behind the letter, which has garnered more than 5000 signatures, addressing Minister for Resources Senator Matt Canavan.

Nuclear Free Campaigner Dave Sweeney has labelled the process “deeply flawed and irresponsible”.  “The current federal waste plan lacks key information of such important things as waste acceptance criteria, who would manage any facility and transport methods and routes,” Mr Sweeney said.

“It also fails to make any credible case for doubling handling the long lived intermediate level waste (ILW).   “The vast majority of this ILW waste is currently securely stored above ground at the ANSTO Lucas Heights facility in southern Sydney, but the federal Department want to re-locate this above ground storage in regional SA – pending future disposal via a yet to fund or identified place or process.

“There is a real risk this waste will become stranded at any future SA site.”

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is encouraging interested people who haven’t done so already, to have their say on the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.

The department is consulting with two South Australian communities who live near three potential sites volunteered by landowners – two near Kimba and one near Hawker.

The results of these ballots and surveys, together with public submissions and feedback received elsewhere will be given to Minister Canavan to assist him in  deciding whether the facility can be established at one of the potential sites….

December 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Queensland Liberal National Party opposes nuclear power

Queensland LNP breaks with federal branch to oppose nuclear power, Amy Remeikis, 3 Oct 2019  Queensland LNP says it supports a greater focus on energy efficiency measures

One of the biggest detractors of the federal Queensland Liberal National party’s push to investigate nuclear energy as a potential power source for Australia has come from within its own house.

The state LNP opposition has publicly declared its opposition to making any changes to the current bipartisan ban on nuclear energy generation, declaring the government would be better served in its goals by focusing on renewable energy sources, in a marked split from their federal state colleagues.

Australia is once again looking at nuclear energy as a potential solution to its power woes, after a group of Coalition MPs, led by a cohort from Queensland, pushed the federal party room into investigating the prospect, through a parliamentary inquiry.

But in a move which has surprised their federal counterparts, the Queensland state LNP spokesman for energy, Michael Hart, made a written submission to the inquiry, announcing his arm of the party’s opposition to any attempt to allow nuclear energy generation, citing the risks to the communities and the environment.

Instead, Hart said the Queensland LNP supports “greater focus” on “energy efficiency measures, along with encouraging investment in renewable energy options like wind and solar, in combination with battery storage when it is technologically and economically feasible to do so”.

“It is considered that Australia’s rich renewable energy resources are more affordable and bring less risk than the elevated cost and risk associated with nuclear energy,” Hart submitted.

“The LNP encourages additional jobs and investment in Queensland’s renewable energy industry, while also supporting resource jobs and exploration which provides baseload power and employment for thousands of Queenslanders.

“In addition to the possibility of accidents and operational failure, nuclear facilities can be a potential target for terrorists. Securing insurance around such possibilities would be virtually impossible.

“In conclusion, the commercial, as well as the political risks, associated with nuclear energy are substantial. To this end, the LNP is strongly committed to an energy policy that delivers safe, affordable and reliable energy to consumers, while fulfilling Australia’s international emissions reduction obligations.

“We believe this can be achieved without lifting the moratorium on nuclear energy generation. Accordingly, we would encourage the committee to ensure an increased emphasis is placed on measures to encourage investment in renewable energy that creates green jobs and lowers electricity bills, for both consumers and industry, which does not (underlined) include nuclear energy”.

The state Labor government established a 50% renewable energy target by 2030 upon winning power in 2015.

The federal inquiry was established after a group of Coalition MPs, led by Hinkler LNP member Keith Pitt and Queensland LNP senator James McGrath, pushed for an investigation into whether nuclear power should be considered as part of the mix, as the government hunts for a long term solution to Australia’s surging energy prices.

Not wanting to reignite the war that led to the downfall of the national energy guarantee, and ultimately, Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership, the government acquiesced to calls for an investigation, which was established after a recommendation from Angus Taylor.

The state LNP position stands in stark contrast to their federal colleagues, including conservative senator Amanda Stoker, who said that “Australia must develop a nuclear energy industry”, as well as her Queensland colleague Gerard Rennick.

McGrath has publicly pushed for the nuclear discussion in numerous interviews and his own social media, as well as within the party room. Pitt, who describes himself as “technologically agnostic”, said the discussion had to be had.

“The first priority for the nations future energy needs will always be reliability and affordability,” he said. “As technology changes I expect our energy mix will also change over a period of time. I am completely technology agnostic in terms of the fuel types that might be utilised. Currently Queensland has the country’s youngest fleet of coal fired generators and I expect they will continue to be a critical part of Queensland’s energy mix into the future.”

He demurred from any questions on the split between state and federal lines, saying the state arm could “speak for themselves”, but attacked the state Labor government for its price management of the state owned power assets.

But the submission did give Queensland Labor senator, Murray Watt, a late week boost.

“This submission shows the LNP’s state MPs have had enough of their federal counterparts’ pointless culture war against renewable power,” he said. “Even the LNP’s state MPs acknowledge that renewables are a cheaper and safer way of meeting our future energy needs.

“They have also slammed their federal counterparts’ pursuit of nuclear power as a massive waste of time and resources.

“The Queensland LNP’s federal representatives should stop wasting everyone’s time by pursuing their obsession with nuclear power and get behind cheaper and safer means of meeting our energy needs.”

October 3, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Found – historic film of Aboriginal resistance to uranium mining

Kakadu uranium protest documentary Dirt Cheap unearthed by Northern Territory Library, ABC News By Matt Garrick 18 Sept 19  The rediscovery of an old VHS tape, left forgotten on the shelves of the Northern Territory Library, has unearthed a tense and important piece of Australian history.

Key points:

  • The 1980 documentary Dirt Cheap showcased the Mirarr people’s fight against uranium mining
  • The Northern Territory Library recently hunted down the only digital copy of the documentary so it could be shown at a film festival
  • Filmmaker Ned Lander says the movie created a stir at the time of its release

The rare copy of the nearly 40-year-old documentary Dirt Cheap, which details the early pushback against uranium mining in Kakadu National Park, was practically unwatchable due to its age……..

The film documented the concerns of the Mirarr people during what was a tense period of negotiation in the lead-up to the 1979 Ranger Uranium Mining Agreement.

It also showcased the pressures and broken promises the traditional owners faced. “It was very, very apparent to us that people were not ready to sign the agreement in relation to mining, and this was being done under pressure.

Mirarr resistance inspires protests around nation

Against the push of government and business interests, the Mirarr stood resolute in their bid to protect their land.

“As a child growing up I saw the struggle of my family, including my grandfather — they [had] been struggling,” traditional owner Jimmy Nabanardi-Mudjandi said.

I’m really proud of them, but it’s sad because they’re not here to see what the new future of Jabiru’s gonna be.”

The resistance from the Mirarr had a flow-on effect around the nation.

Banner-waving protesters took to the streets in Melbourne and Sydney in great numbers, scenes which Dirt Cheap captures in vivid detail.

“Mirarr people got major support from around Australia, from around the whole nation,” Mr Nabanardi-Mudjandi said.

Next stage of uranium mining looms

In the decades since the film’s release, uranium has been mined at Kakadu, but the Ranger mine is now expected to wind up in 2021.

Mr Nabanardi-Mudjandi said it was vital the land was protected during its rehabilitation.

“We are watching them, what they’re doing,” he said.

Mr Nabanardi-Mudjandi will be a special guest when Dirt Cheap screens as part of the Darwin International Film Festival at the Northern Territory Library at 5:30pm on Wednesday.  Contact Matt Garrick

September 19, 2019 Posted by | Audiovisual, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, opposition to nuclear, uranium | Leave a comment

Jervis Bay and previous governments’ secret plans for nuclear weapons

August 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, Opposition to nuclear, opposition to nuclear, politics, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How the Mirrar Aboriginal people, helped by environmentalists stopped uranium mining at Jabiluka

Leave it in the ground: stopping the Jabiluka mine, Red Flag Fleur Taylor, 15 July 2019  “…… The election of John Howard in March 1996 marked the end of 13 years of ALP government…..

Australia’s giant mining companies – major backers of the Coalition – got their wish list. Howard immediately abolished Labor’s three mines policy, and the business pages crowed that “25 new uranium mines” were likely and possible. And in October 1997, then environment minister Robert Hill blew the dust off an environmental impact statement from 1979 that said mining at Jabiluka was safe. Approval of the mine quickly followed.

The Jabiluka uranium deposit, just 20 kilometres from the Ranger uranium mine, is one of the richest in the world. The proposal was to build a massively bigger mine than that at Ranger, which would be underground and therefore more dangerous for the workers. It was projected to produce 19 million tonnes of ore over its lifetime, which would be trucked 22 kilometres through World Heritage listed wetlands.

The Liberals hoped to make a point. After all, if you could put a uranium mine in the middle of a national park in the face of Aboriginal opposition, what couldn’t you do?

The fight immediately began. The traditional owners of the area, the Mirarr, were led by senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula and the CEO of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, Jacqui Katona. They were supported by anti-nuclear campaigners around the country, most notably Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation, as well as a network of activist groups.

The most important objective was to delay construction of the mine, scheduled to begin in 1998. To do this, the Mirarr called on activists to travel to Jabiluka in order to take part in a blockade of the proposed mine site until the onset of the wet season would make construction impossible.

The blockade was immensely successful. Beginning on 23 March 1998, it continued for eight months, attracted 5,000 protesters and led to 600 arrests at various associated direct actions. Yvonne Margarula was one: she was arrested in May for trespass on her own land after she and two other Aboriginal women entered the Ranger mine site.

The blockade also attracted high-profile environmental and anti-nuclear activists such as Peter Garrett and Bob Brown. This helped signal to activists that this was a serious fight. The sheer length of time the blockade lasted created a fantastic opportunity for the campaign in the cities. Activists were constantly returning from Jabiluka with a renewed determination to fight.

The Jabiluka Action Group was key to building an ongoing city-based campaign in Melbourne, and the campaign was strongest there of any city. It held large – often more than 100-strong – weekly meetings, organised endless relays of buses to the blockade and  took the fight to the bosses and corporations that stood to profit from the mine.

We were determined to map the networks of corporate ownership and power behind the mine. But in the late 1990s, when the internet barely existed, this wasn’t as simple as just looking up a company’s corporate structure on its glossy website. It took serious, time consuming research.

A careful tracing of the linkages of the North Ltd board members showed that they were very well connected – and not one but two of them were members and past chairmen of the Business Council of Australia (BCA) – one of Australia’s leading bosses’ organisations. So our June 1998 protest naturally headed to the Business Council of Australia. We occupied their office, and the two groups of anti-uranium protesters, 3,800 kilometres apart, exchanged messages of solidarity, courtesy of the office phones of the BCA.

We were also staggered to learn that the chairman of a company that owned two uranium mines and was Australia’s biggest exporter of hardwood woodchips was also a member of the Parks Victoria board, the national president of Greening Australia and the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) board president!

The EPA, and corporate greenwashing in general, thereby became a target for the campaign. Another target was the Royal Society of Victoria, which made the mistake of inviting Sir Gus Nossal, a famous scientist and longstanding booster for the nuclear industry, to give a dinner address. We surrounded its building, and the organisers, somewhat mystified, cancelled the dinner. This action once again made headline news, helping to keep the issue of the Jabiluka mine in people’s minds.

We held regular protests at the headquarters of North Ltd on Melbourne’s St Kilda Road. On the day that Yvonne Margarula was facing court on her trespass charge, a vigil was held overnight. When we heard she had been found guilty, the protest erupted in fury. Cans of red paint – not water-based – materialised, and the corporate facade of North Ltd received an unscheduled refurbishment. The Herald-Sun went berserk.

The leadership of the Mirarr people gave this campaign a different focus from other environmental campaigns of the time. It was fundamentally about land rights, sovereignty and the right of Aboriginal communities to veto destructive developments on their land. In Melbourne, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation appointed long-time Aboriginal militant and historian Gary Foley as their representative. Gary worked tirelessly to provoke and educate the many activists who turned up wanting to “support” or “do something” for Aboriginal people.

At a time when “reconciliation” was strongly supported by liberals and much of the left, Foley told us that reconciliation was bullshit. He argued native title (supposedly a key achievement of Keating) was “the most inferior form of land title under British law”, and that the ALP was every bit as racist as One Nation – if not worse. He insisted activists must educate themselves about sovereignty and the struggles happening right here, not just those happening 3,800 kilometres away. The way the Jabiluka Action Group activists approached this challenge was an example of how people’s ideas change. Many came into the campaign primarily as environmental activists, but almost all left as committed fighters for Aboriginal rights.


When the blockade wound down at the onset of the wet season, it was an opportunity to fight on some other fronts. Representatives of the UN World Heritage Committee visited Kakadu in late 1998 and issued a declaration that the World Heritage values of the area were in danger. They called on the government to stop the mine. Yvonne Margarula and Jacqui Katona travelled to Paris to speak to the European Commission about the mine.

John Howard, at the time mired in ministerial scandals and resignations, had called an election for September 1998, and there was hope in some quarters that Labor might win and stop the mine. But Howard scraped back in on only 48.3 percent of the vote, and it was clear that the fight on the ground would have to continue.

In the meantime, an important legal loophole had been identified. North Ltd had failed to secure agreement for the Jabiluka ore to be trucked to the Ranger mine for processing. It turned out the Mirarr did have the right to refuse this, and by exercising this right they would increase the cost of the project by $200 million (the cost of building a new processing plant at Jabiluka). This, combined with the ongoing protests, became a huge problem for the company.

Something we enjoyed doing at the time was monitoring North Ltd’s share price. It started out high when the Liberals took power. But after a year of protest and controversy, it had started to sink. The slump world uranium prices were going through didn’t help. But what the share price correlated to most closely was the major protests – it showed a drop after every single one.

Fund managers everywhere had absorbed the simple message that Jabiluka meant trouble, and early in 1999 this formerly prestigious blue-chip mining stock was described as one of the year’s “dog stocks”. Encouraged by this, the campaign launched its most ambitious action to date – the four-day blockade of North Ltd, from Palm Sunday until Easter Thursday 1999. This was the beginning of the end for the mine. In mid-2000, Rio Tinto bought out the struggling North Ltd. With no appetite for a brawl, the new owners quietly mothballed the Jabiluka project, signing a guarantee with the Mirarr to that effect. The campaign had won.


The Jabiluka campaign was one of those rare things – an outright victory. It was a win not just for the Mirarr people, but for every community threatened by a devastating radioactive mine. And it was a win for humanity as a whole, protected from more of this deadly substance. Our chant – “Hey, North, you’re running out of time! You’re never going to get your Jabiluka mine!” – for once came true.

The victory inspired a neighbouring traditional owner, Jeffrey Lee, single-handedly to challenge the development of the Koongarra uranium deposit, resulting in the cancellation of that entire mining lease. In Melbourne and other cities, the Mirarr resistance inspired sustained and creative campaigning from a wide variety of participants – from vegan Wiccans and revolutionary socialists to doof-doof rave organisers and corporate-philanthropist Women for Mirarr Women. The campaign was chaotic and argumentative, but united by a commitment to challenging corporate power and standing up for Aboriginal sovereignty.

It still serves as an inspiration for anti-nuclear and anti-mining campaigns, such as the brave and determined opposition of the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners to the Adani mine. It stands as a great example of how blockades on country can nourish and inspire actions in the cities.


July 18, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, Opposition to nuclear, opposition to nuclear, reference | Leave a comment

Campaigners vow to continue the fight to stop Canberra dumping nuclear waste in South Australia

12 July 2019, Civil society groups and members of the communities affected by the federal government’s proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) are deeply disappointed with Justice White’s ruling that the exclusion of Barngarla Traditional Owners from a ballot intended to gauge community support was not a breach of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Ballots were to be held in the Flinders Ranges and Kimba districts in August 2018. Eligibility to participate was severely restricted and while non-resident rate-payers were included, Traditional Owners who live outside the small geographic areas were excluded.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation, Native Title Holders for the Kimba District, sought an injunction in the Supreme Court, asserting that their exclusion breached the Racial Discrimination Act. This effectively put the site selection on hold.

In December 2018, the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) lodged a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission based on poor treatment and consultation with Traditional Owners throughout the divisive site selection process. This case is ongoing.

Mara Bonacci, Nuclear Free Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Australia said: “Today’s announcement is very disappointing, but not surprising. The federal legislation governing the nuclear waste management process, the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012, is undemocratic and systematically disadvantages Aboriginal people. The Act gives the federal government the power to extinguish rights and interests in land targeted for a radioactive waste facility. The Act allows the Minister to proceed with a nuclear waste dump without securing the consent of Traditional Owners. Traditional Owners, local communities, pastoralists, business owners, local councils and State/Territory Governments are all disadvantaged and disempowered by the NRWMA.

“It is important to note that today’s ruling is not a vindication of the federal site selection process, only finding that it is not a breach of the Racial Discrimination Act. The lack of inclusion of Aboriginal people is inconsistent with community expectation, best practise and Australia’s international obligations under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is galling that Justice White’s ruling was delivered in NAIDOC week.

“The Federal government process has also denied a voice to many Australians concerned about this issue and about responsible radioactive waste management – this is a national issue and national responsibility, the burden of which should not be placed on regional and remote communities.

“It is appalling that federal resources Minister Matt Canavan is contemplating proceeding with a nuclear waste dump on Barngarla land despite the clear opposition of Traditional Owners. The SA Marshall Government also needs to voice its clear opposition to the imposition of a nuclear waste dump.”

“This Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of a famous day in South Australia’s history. On July 14, 2004, a campaign led by an Aboriginal Women’s Council, the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, finally persuaded the Howard Government to abandon its plan to impose a national nuclear waste dump on SA. It seems nothing was learnt from that experience.


“Despite today’s ruling, community members, civil society groups and many others will continue to fight to protect South Australia from becoming home to Australia’s radioactive waste and for a fair and transparent site selection process based on responsible radioactive radioactive waste management”, Ms Bonacci concluded.

July 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Union push to union trustees to formally exclude nuclear energy from industry super investments

ETU pushes union trustees to block nuclear AFR, 10 July 19 The Electrical Trades Union is leading a push for union trustees to formally commit to excluding nuclear energy from industry super investments in favour of bolstering renewables.  ETU national secretary Allen Hicks will propose an anti-nuclear investment motion at the Australian Council of Trade Union’s national executive later this year and use the ACTU’s Super Trustees Forum to “build and leverage support among my union director colleagues on this”.

“I want to pass a motion committing union directors in the industry super sector to focus on backing investment in renewable tech,” he will tell the union’s national conference on Wednesday afternoon.

“To focus on backing that investment instead of propping up the misguided imaginings of those who long for an Australian nuclear sector.”

The motion follows the ETU’s attack last week on an energy paper released by industry fund peak body Industry Super Australia (ISA), chaired by former ACTU secretary Greg Combet…….

Mr Hicks will attack the paper as a “disgrace” in his speech and question industry funds diverting money to ISA to produce it.

“It’s a disgrace that this body – this body that unions created – could be used as part of a push to expose workers and their communities to the catastrophic dangers that nuclear power plants present,” the speech says.

He will advocate industry super funds commit to a “war-like mobilisation” to battle climate change and “become the ultimate weapon in Australia’s fight for a clean, renewable energy sector”.

“The retirement savings of Australian workers could be deployed to invest in smart, new, renewable technology – including battery tech – that could set us on the path to zero carbon emissions.”

The ETU’s anti-nuclear position is supported by the $50 billion building industry super fund Cbus, which includes the CFMEU on its board of trustees………

Mr Hicks will argue the economics around nuclear power don’t stack up due to the costs and time taken for construction.

“But even if they did, our union would oppose it,” he will say, arguing nuclear puts workers in unsafe conditions.

“No responsible Australian trade union … no organisation that claims to represent the interests of Australian workers … could possibly endorse putting Australians into that line of potential fire.”…..

Energy Super, whose board includes ETU representatives, stressed it was “focused on maximising members’ hard-earned retirement savings”.

“We have a transparent investment process which considers many factors including environmental, social and governance criteria to ensure the sustainability of the fund over the longer term,” chief executive Robyn Petrou said.

“We are increasing our investments in renewables, such as wind farms and solar  energy.”

July 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment