Traditional Aboriginal land owners “locked out” of nuclear waste dump vote
A South Australian cattle station that is part-owned by the state’s Liberal party director and located next to an Indigenous Protected Area has been provisionally selected as the site of Australia’s first nuclear waste dump, outraging traditional owners.
The head of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) says the majority of Adnyamathanha people have been denied a vote on a proposed radioactive waste management facility near the town of Hawker in the Flinders Rangers.
Hookina Waterhole (pictured) is a sacred Adnyamathanha site located 8km away from the proposed radioactive waste management facility at Wallerberdina Station, near Barndioota, in the Flinders Rangers, about 500km north of Adelaide, the state capital.
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Wallerberdina Station, located approximately 30km northwest of Hawker on Adnyamathanha country, has been shortlisted by the Federal Government for a facility that will permanently hold low-level nuclear waste and temporarily hold intermediate level waste.
The selection process is entering its final stages, with a postal ballot beginning on August 20 to measure community support for three nominated sites.
But ATLA CEO Vince Coulthard said the voting guidelines were disrespectful to traditional owners, as the majority of Adnyamathanha people do not live close enough to the proposed Wallerberdina site to be eligible to vote.
The voting range includes residents of the Flinders Ranges Council and those who live within a 50km radius of the Wallerberdina site.
According to Coulthard, there are approximately 2500 Adnyamathanha people in total but only about 300 Adnyamathanha people who live in the voting range.
Coulthard said about 50 Adnyamathanha people who lived outside the voting range had expressed interest in voting, but when ATLA asked Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan during a consultation trip to Hawker if those people could be granted a vote, Coulthard said Canavan told him that only those living in the prescribed voting range could participate.
“It’s a crazy situation,” Coulthard said. “People have strong connections to land. There’s a large amount of people, many who don’t live on the land but they go back on a regular basis to travel around the land.”
He said Adnyamathanha people had been “locked out” from the vote, despite holding native title rights over the land.