Barngarla criticise Kimba waste site process

Scathing attack on radioactive waste process

Members of the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) have launched a scathing attack on the federal government's process of selecting a site near Kimba to establish a radioactive waste dump.

A joint statement released by the First Nations corporation and the No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA group outline several issues with the government's consultation process.

In the media release the two bodies claim that the government has "completely and utterly miscarried" the site selection process by not allowing First Nations people to vote in the community ballot.

"The simple fact remains that even though the Barngarla hold native title land closer to the proposed facility than the town of Kimba, the First Peoples for the area were not allowed to vote," they said.

"They prevented Barngarla persons from voting, because native title land is not rateable. They did not allow many farmers to vote, even though they were within 50km of the proposed facility, because they were not in the Council area.

"They targeted us, because they knew that if they had a fair vote which included us, then the vote would return a "no" from the community."

The results of the Kimba community ballot demonstrated a "majority support" for the federal government's proposed nuclear facility, with 61 per cent voting in favor of the dump.

Further criticism was directed at a lack of consultation with communities that will be affected by the transport of nuclear waste to the facility.

"Those communities, where the waste will be transported through, have had no right to have a say. South Australians more broadly have had any rights to have a say," they said.

Another key issue raised was the removal of the democratic right to judicial review, which a number of political parties including Labor and the Greens have voice their opposition to.

"The government sought to change the law to remove our democratic right to judicial review of their actions so that no Court could ever assess what had been done," they said.

"We find this staggering, as checks and balances are needed for a functioning democracy."

Resources Minister Keith Pitt said eligibility for the Kimba community ballot was based on qualification criteria set out in the Local Elections Act 1999 (SA).

"This criteria focuses on residence and rateable property in the council area, and not race. Any Traditional Owners on the council electoral roll were eligible to participate, and were encouraged to do so," he said.

"The BDAC funded and completed a ballot of their member's sentiment, which indicated 100 per cent opposition to the facility (83 members), from a 39.71 per cent participation rate.

"The Government had made several offers to fund a ballot of BDAC members but they were not taken up."

Minister Pitt said the specific transport routes from radioactive waste storage locations around Australia would be determined once a decision has been made on a site for the facility.

The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 was passed by the Australian Parliament on Tuesday.

Once the bill receives Royal Assent and the Minister has undertaken a review of the three sites nominated for the facility -Wallerberdina, Lyndhurst and Napandee - a "intention to declare" a preferred site will be made.

After a 60-day period period, the Minister can then declare a site and acquisition of a site by the government for the purpose of hosting the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.