16th May 2016
Building a nuclear waste dump in South Australia would be “cultural genocide”, an Indigenous Australian says, as a campaign against a potential facility in South Australia ramps up.
- Alliance launches in protest against potential nuclear dump
- Traditional landowners says dump would be “cultural genocide”
- SA Government yet to make a decision
Flinders Ranges Adnyamathanha woman Candace Champion was among unions, community groups and traditional landowners who today launched an alliance to protest the dump if it goes ahead.
Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commissioner Kevin Scarce made a recommendation earlier this month that SA build a used-nuclear fuel and intermediate level waste storage facility as an economic opportunity.
The State Government has not committed to building a dump and said community engagement would be pivotal before a proposal was considered.
But the alliance believes going ahead with such a facility would ignore Aboriginal rights and put public health, the environment and the state’s finances at risk.
It includes the Australian Nursing Midwifery Federation, Conservation Council, Maritime Union of Australia and the Uniting Church.
“This proposal and the proposals of nuclear dumps right around Australia is a threat to Aboriginal culture and society and it is cultural genocide,” Ms Champion said.
“As a young Adnyamathanha woman, I can tell you that my family will be affected by this nuclear dump. It is bringing back a lot of anxiety, a lot of anxiousness and a lot of mental health issues within my family and my community.”
Premier Jay Weatherill in February said it was important that everybody was “afforded an opportunity to have their say” and believed an emotion-charged debate was required.
“In a sense, this is a test of our democracy,” Mr Weatherill said.
“Can we take a controversial issue which is about the long-term future of our state and consider it in a respectful and intelligent way and reach a wise judgement?”
He more recently encouraged South Australians to “keep an open mind” and become familiar with the facts within Mr Scare’s report and participate “in this most important debate about SA’s future”.
Alliance to campaign for more consultation sessions
Yankunytjatjara Native Title chairperson Karina Lester said the alliance would campaign for more community consultation sessions, particularly in regional areas.
“We do want to see work being done in the interpreting and translating area as well because this is very technical … in particular those who still speak their first language,” she said.
“I think we need to continue to make noise that we are not feeling supported in this, in this decision making process and that we need to be involved.
“The South Australian Government need to really be listening to what Aboriginal people but also the wider group are saying about this very important issue.”
The Government is preparing a response to the commission’s final report which is expected to be presented to SA Parliament by the end of the year.
It plans to randomly select 400 people to sit on citizens’ juries to consider the state’s approach to its nuclear future.