On July 31, 100 anti-uranium mining protesters rallied outside the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle, which was hosting the Australian Uranium Conference.
WA Liberal Premier Colin Barnett lifted the ban on uranium mining in November 2008 soon after winning office.
There are no commercial uranium mines operating in the state but the Australian Uranium Association has identified eight major uranium deposits in WA.
The Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA (ANAWA), which organised the protest, said there are 137 mining companies with uranium interests in the state.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Petit told the rally the state government would “have a fight on its hands” if it tried to transport uranium through Fremantle.
Greens candidate for Curtin, George Crisp, said: “We know without a shadow of a doubt there is no safe level of radiation exposure.”
Greens Senator Scott Ludlam told the crowd he was going into the conference with the message that this issue was not going away and that we would keep fighting.
Steve McCartney, state secretary of the Australian Metal Workers’ Union said there is no national radiation dose register for workers in the uranium industry.
“Five hundred new workers every year go on the asbestos register so the impacts of their exposure can be monitored,” he said. “There is no such register for workers exposed to uranium. No one is looking after their health.”
Sanna Andrew, Socialist Alliance candidate for Fremantle spoke about the danger to children: “The Northern Territory Intervention is not about saving children. It is about killing children. It’s about opening traditional lands up to uranium mining and a nuclear waste dump and exposing children to poisonous substances.”
Kado Muir, spokesperson of the Ngalia people from Yeelirrie where BHP Billiton has proposed a uranium mine, said he would follow the official position of the traditional owners. “Yeelirrie is a place of death”, he said.
Muir, who is also the WA Greens Senate candidate, said: “They want to dig that sickness from the ground and transport it. We believe it was put there by our dreamtime ancestors and it should stay there.”
Della Morrison from ANAWA gave the welcome to country and chaired the rally. “I’ve visited communities where people are overwhelmingly opposed to uranium mining”, she said.
“Traditional culture teaches it is poison and must not be touched.”
Morrison led the chant: “Poison! Keep it in the ground!”