About 3000 people rallied on the steps of Parliament House on October 16 to protest against the state and federal governments’ plans to create nuclear waste dumps in South Australia.
This year the state government held the expensive — and some would say biased — Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, which found South Australia was the perfect place to store the world's high-grade nuclear waste. It has just initiated a public consultation into the general idea of storing nuclear waste, which will continue into next year.
At the same time, the federal government has proposed building a storage facility for Australia’s low-level radioactive waste dump at Wallerberdina station, near Hawker in the Flinders Ranges.
Both plans were vociferously condemned by the engaged and angry crowd. Many of the speakers who addressed the rally were traditional owners whose land is threatened. Many recalled the horrors of the nuclear testing at Emu Field and Maralinga. The rally was held on the 63rd anniversary of the first British atomic bomb test at Emu Field in the Woomera Prohibited Area of SA’s far north-west.
Karina Lester, from the No Dump Alliance, said many people did not want to see either proposal go ahead and they need to send a strong message of opposition to the state and federal governments.
"All traditional owner groups need to unite and fight this, as we all know the international waste storage facility is not going to be Norwood or Unley [in Adelaide], it will be in the far north of the state," she said.
"People travelled from the mid north [and] from Ceduna as well to be part of this event and it was so important that they gathered here today to say 'Enough is enough'.
"Having Yalata crew, having Ceduna crew, the Yappala crew being involved is so strong for us as Aboriginal people."
Film director Scott Hicks spoke about his concerns about the high-grade dump. "To me it's an idea that doesn't make sense on any level," he said. "It doesn't make economic sense.
“We can't even predict the price of coal a month from now. How can we predict the price of nuclear waste 100 years from now? Why would we want to leave a legacy for our children's, children's children and beyond 100,000 years, that can never be taken away?"
Aboriginal Congress SA chairman Tauto Sansbury said people need to understand what building nuclear waste dumps means for future generations. "We are talking about the importance of country and the preservation of culture and safety of our peoples," he said.
Other speakers included secretary of SAUnions Joe Szakacs and Conservation SA chief executive Craig Wilkins.
A large contingent came to Adelaide by train from a range of southern suburbs along the Seaford train line, with many coming from Willunga and Aldinga and others joining at stops along the way. They marched from the station to the rally chanting “Nuclear waste, what a disgrace”.
Future campaign plans include a protest at the Labor state conference on October 29.