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New waste dump legislation fundamentally flawed

Posted: Wed, March 14, 2012

The Central Land Council (CLC) today expressed profound disappointment that the Senate yesterday passed the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill 2010.

The CLC has repeatedly raised serious concerns about this legislation which allows the Commonwealth Government to continue to override many important considerations in the selection of a site for a radioactive waste facility, and has condemned the legislation as fundamentally flawed.

“This legislation retains many of the provisions that are in the old Act (Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005),” CLC Director, David Ross said. “It seeks to find a politically expedient solution, shows contempt for state and Territory laws, and a disregard for decision making processes enshrined in the Land Rights Act.”

“This legislation is shameful, it subverts processes under the Land Rights Act and is clearly designed to reach the outcome of a dump being located on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory, whether that’s the best place for it or not.

Traditional owners and affected Aboriginal people living in the Tennant Creek region within the boundary of the CLC area have made representations to the CLC voicing their opposition to the proposed site at Muckaty Station and their dissatisfaction with consultation processes undertaken under the old Act.

This legislation preserves the Muckaty nomination without acknowledging the dissent and conflict amongst the broader traditional owner group about the process and the so-called agreement. A number of traditional owners have challenged the validity of the Muckaty nomination in the Federal Court, and the CLC believes that Parliament should have deferred voting on this legislation until that matter was concluded.

“The passage of this legislation will further inflame the tensions and divisions amongst families in Tennant Creek, and cause great stress to many people in that region,” said Mr Ross.

“The Minister should have acknowledged some time ago that the Muckaty nomination is highly contested, and he should have insisted on a thorough and proper consultation process as set out in the Land Rights Act.”

The CLC does welcome the fact that this legislation does effectively dispose of the three sites listed in Schedule 1 of the old Act. The CLC represents the traditional landowners of two of the sites – Harts Range and Mount Everard – which are now removed from further consideration. The traditional owners of these two sites are strongly opposed to a waste dump on their country, and will be relieved that their country is no longer to be considered.

 

14 March 2012