Mara Bonacci

After two decades of failing to secure a nuclear waste dump site in South Australia and the Northern Territory through a top down approach, early last year the federal government initiated a voluntary nomination process calling on landholders to put forward their land for assessment. A shortlist of six was released after 28 sites were nominated around Australia: Hill End in NSW; Omanama in Queensland; Hale in the Northern Territory; Cortlinye and Pinkawillinie in the Kimba region of South Australia; and Barndioota station in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia.
Three Knitting Nannas Against Gas were arrested on January 18 after chaining themselves to the gates of the Santos Leewood water treatment plant near Narrabri.
Ahead of the climate talks in Paris in December, it is important that people mobilise and demand strong action on climate change. Without a clear message from ordinary people, the demands that business and polluting industries make of governments are more likely to dilute the outcomes. Remember Rio? Kyoto? Copenhagen? At the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 conference in Paris, our leaders need to do more, and fast.
Disciples of Fred Nile and his Christian Democrat Party (CDP) gathered in Belmore Park in Sydney on September 20 to convince each other that their anti-marriage equality stance is right. They were supported by police, who facilitated their bigoted ranting and kept marriage equality protestors as far away as possible.
Domestic violence is the only criminal charge that is increasing in NSW. In Australia, one woman dies from it every week and one is hospitalised every three hours. Under such circumstances, one would hope the political will would exist to increase funding for services proven to help vulnerable women at risk. Instead, the NSW government is reducing 336 existing services to just 149 services run by 69 lead agencies, 75% of which are Christian organisations.
Australian resident Natalie Lowrey was refused entry into Malaysia on August 31. She was travelling as an observer to the trial of 15 environmental activists who were arrested for protesting against Australian rare earth mining company Lynas. On arrival in Malaysia, Lowrey was held by customs officials who said she had been blacklisted by Bukit Aman — the police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur — and that she would be deported home. Lowrey was informed of a strict denial of entry to Malaysia. No reasons were given.
Australian-based organisation Stop Lynas released a paper on August 28 criticising Australian rare earths company Lynas for operating without a social licence in Malaysia. The paper has been submitted to Lynas for response.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) gave approval to a uranium mine at Kintyre in Western Australia on July 28. The mine is about 260 kilometres north-east of Newman in the east Pilbara in an area that was excised from the Karlamilyi (Rudall River) National Park to allow mining in 1994. Because it is illegal to export uranium from WA, trucks carrying the uranium oxide concentrate — otherwise known as yellowcake — will have to travel 4600 kilometres from the Kintyre mine to Port Adelaide.
Anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan was sentenced at a hearing of the Supreme Court in Sydney on July 25. He was sentenced to one year and eight months imprisonment, but was released immediately on a two-year good behaviour bond with $1000 surety. Moylan was charged under the Corporations Act for issuing a press release on ANZ letterhead saying the bank had withdrawn its $1.2 billion loan facility from Whitehaven’s Maules Creek Coal Project on environmental and ethical grounds. Whitehaven’s share price temporarily fell before quickly recovering.
Anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan is awaiting sentencing after Justice David Davies adjourned his decision at a Supreme Court hearing in Sydney on July 11. On the same day, more than 100 people gathered outside the court in a silent vigil to support Moylan. Moylan pleaded guilty in May this year to one count of disseminating false information to the market, after being charged last year under the Corporations Act 2001 for making a “false or misleading” statement.
Australian environmental campaigner Natalie Lowrey has been released after spending five days in a Malaysian prison. She was arrested in Kuantan, Malaysia on June 22 after participating in a protest against Australian company Lynas. A petition for her release gained 15,000 signatures and protests calling for her release were held in Sydney, Perth and Alice Springs. The “Shut Lynas Down” protest was organised by the Green Assembly, a Malaysian environment movement protesting Lynas’ polluting rare earths processing plant.
When Muckaty traditional owners first heard about a proposed waste dump on their land seven years ago, it didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Many thought it was a general rubbish tip that would recycle, sell reclaimed materials and provide work opportunities for people living in the remote area of the Northern Territory. Millions of dollars were promised for roads and scholarships. In an area with few employment prospects or education opportunities, it is little wonder the offer seemed attractive.
Seven years after Muckaty Station was nominated as a radioactive waste dump site, a Federal Court challenge has begun in Tennant Creek, 500 kilometres north of Alice Springs and 120 kilometres south of the proposed dump site. In 2007, the Northern Land Council (NLC) nominated Muckaty to the Commonwealth. The Federal Court challenge is based on the argument that the traditional owners were not properly consulted and they did not give consent.
More than 250 people gathered outside the office of the Northern Land Council in Tennant Creek and marched to the local Peko Park on May 25, protesting against the proposed radioactive waste dump at Muckaty in the Northern Territory. The Muckaty site is part of a Land Trust, which is shared by five interrelated groups — Milwayi, Ngapa, Ngarra, Wintirku and Yapayapa. Traditional owners call the Muckaty Land Trust “Manuwangku”. Members of all five groups were present at the rally.
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