Barngarla people tell Labor ‘no’ to nuclear waste dump

Barngarla delegation outside the Federal Court. Photo: Renfrey Clarke

Fifty people gathered outside the Federal Court building on March 6 to protest against continuing moves by the Anthony Albanese government to put a national nuclear waste dump on First Nations land near Kimba, in north-western South Australia.

Uncle Harry Dare of the Barngarla people, the Traditional Owners where the dump site is proposed, spoke about his community’s concerns, as did other First Nations Elders, environmentalists and trade unionists.

Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Nuclear Free Campaigner Dave Sweeney said “ACF respects the Barngarla people’s concerns and efforts and we stand alongside them in this effort.

“It is deeply disappointing the federal Labor government is continuing to advance a deeply deficient waste plan inherited from the former Coalition era.

“The plan is based on false assumptions and would deliver sub-optimal outcomes.”

The Barngarla challenge, set to be heard all week, seeks to overturn former resources minister Keith Pitt’s declaration of the Kimba site.

Senate Estimates show the government is outspending the Barngarla on a four-to-one ratio.

“This is a David and Goliath battle,” Sweeney said. “Unlike the Barngarla, the federal government has access to significant resources and considerable power. It should be using these to advance real solutions, not radioactive pollution.”

Pitt tried to preclude Barngarla from seeking legal redress, but was stymied by the federal Labor Opposition, the Greens and the crossbench.

Sweeney said it is good that the Barngarla people “have a day or five in Court”, but “they should not have to go down this route”. He said Labor should put the brakes on the site selection process and “start genuine and respectful engagement” with First Nations people.

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Supporters of the Barngarla people outside the Federal Court. Photo: Renfrey Clarke