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Hundreds rally against nuclear dump proposal

Nick G.

Hundreds of South Australians rallied outside Parliament House on Saturday November 2 to oppose nuclear waste dumps proposed for SA.

The rally was organised by the Aboriginal-led No Dump Alliance

The group has the support of unions including the Australian Education Union and the Maritime Union, but requires greater commitment and support from the organised working class.

Aboriginal community leaders are incensed that their lands are seen as “safe” repositories for nuclear wastes by politicians who would have a blue fit if such wastes were to be buried next to Kiribilli House in Sydney or the Lodge in Canberra.

They are also frustrated by the impermanence and unreliability of bourgeois, unsettler laws when their own law and culture is regarded as unchanging and consistent throughout the ages.

For example, on July 14th, 2004, after a six-year battle, the Federal Government abandoned its plans to impose a national nuclear waste dump within the 67000 square kilometre region known as Billa Kalina in central SA. The campaign was led by senior Aboriginal women − the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta − many of them victims of the British atomic bomb tests half a century ago.

The Kungka Tjuta victory saw legislation passed in the SA Parliament making a nuclear waste dump illegal in SA. Transporting nuclear wastes within or through SA also became illegal.  Even advocating a nuclear waste dump became illegal.

The latter provision was removed by the Weatherall Labor government when it decided to establish a Royal Commission into the feasibility of a nuclear dump. Despite months of advocacy and counter-advocacy before the Commission, a subsequent so-called ‘citizen’s jury’ voted against the dump proposal and it was dropped.

However, the federal government wants both a waste facility for the storage of high-level nuclear waste sourced from overseas and a dump for low-level wastes currently stored at ANSTO's Lucas Heights site south of Sydney.  Two sites are being considered for the national dump: Wallerbedina Station (near Hawker) in the Flinders Ranges, and two sites in the Eyre Peninsula community of Kimba. The new Liberal state government supports the proposal.

It also supports plans to import to import 138,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste for storage and eventual disposal in SA, although no site has so far been identified.

To try and progress the issue, the SA government has decided to poll people living in the identified communities.  However, traditional owners say that the polls exclude traditional owners living outside narrowly defined boundaries – and many non-Indigenous farmers and station workers are similarly excluded. The Barngarla traditional owners from the Eyre Peninsula have successfully taken legal action to postpone the polls.

The rally also voiced opposition to another threat to Adnyamathanha country -  Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) at Leigh Creek (see our earlier report on this issue here).

We stand solidly behind Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples seeking self-determination and maintenance of sovereignty.

That means that Aboriginal people must have the right of veto over proposals that threaten country and culture.


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