Traditional owners “locked out” of nuclear waste vote
The head of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association says the majority of Adnyamathanha people have been denied a vote on a proposed radioactive waste management facility near the town of Hawker in the Flinders Rangers.
Wallerberdina Station, located approximately 30km northwest of Hawker on Adnyamathanha country, has been shortlisted by the Federal Government for a facility that will permanently hold low-level nuclear waste and temporarily hold intermediate level waste.
It is one of three sites, the other two situated close to Kimba, that were shortlisted by the Federal Government to store nuclear waste.
The selection process is entering its final stages, with a postal ballot beginning on August 20 to measure community support for the three nominated sites.
But ATLA CEO Vince Coulthard said the voting guidelines were disrespectful to traditional owners, as the majority of Adnyamathanha people do not live close enough to the proposed Wallerberdina site to be eligible to vote.
The voting range includes residents of the Flinders Ranges Council and those who live within a 50km radius of the Wallerberdina site.
According to Coulthard, there are approximately 2500 Adnyamathanha people in total but only about 300 Adnyamathanha people who live in the voting range.
Coulthard said about 50 Adnyamathanha people who lived outside the voting range had expressed interest in voting, but when ATLA asked Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan during a consultation trip to Hawker last week if those people could be granted a vote, Coulthard said Canavan told him that only those living in the prescribed voting range could participate.
“It’s a crazy situation, this is Adnyamathanha country and it is a very important place to the Adnyamathanha nation. People have strong connections to land. There’s a large amount of people, many who don’t live on the land but they go back on a regular basis to travel around the land.”
A spokesperson from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said the vote was set following “extensive consultation with the community”.
The spokesperson said if anyone was to fall outside the voting area, they could put in a submission, which would be considered.
“The ballot will be one of a number of inputs that will contribute to the assessment of community support, which will also draw on public and private submissions and feedback from stakeholders. The views of the traditional owners of land around the sites are being directly sought and provided to the Minister as part of his decision-making process. This includes the views of ATLA as expressed through its board.”
But Coulthard said he was disappointed that Canavan had not consulted with all ATLA members during his consultation visit.
He said Adnyamathanha people had been “locked out” from the vote, despite holding native title rights over the land.
“Canavan is saying this will strengthen our culture, that this will be good for us, but what it is actually doing is punishing the environment.
This is a place where we have gone to get bush tucker, where we have come as traditional owners for thousands of years. They’ve shown us disrespect and this is very hurtful.”
Source: “InDaily” Adelaide’s independent news (reporter – Stephanie Richards)