The Beyond Nuclear Initiative released the statement below on March 13.
* * *
The Beyond Nuclear Initiative (BNI) says radioactive waste management legislation passed this afternoon in the Senate is deeply flawed and will not slow down the campaign against the proposed Muckaty radioactive waste dump in the Northern Territory.
The National Radioactive Waste Management Bill was introduced two years ago and is strongly opposed by the Northern Territory government, Traditional Owners and a growing number of trade unions and civil society groups.
Minister Martin Ferguson’s legislation repeals three Department of Defence site nominations made by the Howard government — Harts Range, Mt Everard and Fisher’s Ridge — but preserves the highly contested Muckaty nomination.
Mitch, a spokesperson for Harts Range and Mt Everard said: “It is almost seven years since the NT dump plan was announced. We are happy that Harts Range is now off the list but we support the Muckaty people to say no. This proposal is based on politics not science. This is a very sad day.”
Muckaty Traditional Owners have launched a federal court case against the federal government and the Northern Land Council, which nominated the Muckaty site in 2007.
Muckaty Traditional Owner Penny Phillips said: “At the start Senator Nigel Scullion said ‘not on my watch’ will the waste dump happen. He should be fighting against it and look after people in the Territory. Its very confusing for us — the Senators are meant to represent us. Do they care about Traditional Owners, do they care about people in the Barkly, the cattlemen? The government should come and see this country. We have been inviting them many times and they have ignored us.
“The government should wait for the court case before passing this law. Traditional Owners say no to the waste dump. We have been fighting against this for years and we will keep fighting. We don’t want it in Muckaty or anywhere in the NT.”
BNI coordinator Natalie Wasley said: “Passing this law before consulting with the affected community is putting the radioactive cart before the horse. The Minister has never visited Tennant Creek to talk with Traditional Owners or the broader community. The discussion about Muckaty should be had sitting on red dust, not the red carpet of the Senate.”
Wasley said: “BNI welcomes the passing of Senator Scott Ludlam’s amendment that international waste cannot be stored at the facility, however, the rest of the legislation is neither new nor good. It builds on the mistakes of the Howard era and lacks credibility and consent. There are still many hurdles for the government before a dump is up and running, and this proposal will be challenged every step of the way.”