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South Australia: ATSIC alleges limited consultation with indigenous communities over the National Repository for Low Level Radioactive Waste.

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Tuesday, 6 May 2003



LINDA MOTTRAM: Concerns have been raised about the consultation process for one of Australia’s most controversial new developments, the national repository for low level radioactive waste. A decision on the dump’s location in South Australia is expected within days, but in a letter leaked to AM a committee of the Commonwealth environment department has advised the Howard government that there deep-seated concerns of native title claimants which have not been adequately taken into account. Nance Haxton reports from Adelaide.


NANCE HAXTON: The letter to Environment Minister, Dr David Kemp, says the federal government should consider the opposition of traditional owners to the national radioactive waste repository. Written by the chairperson of the committee, Rocky Sainty, it also states that native title claimants and other community members have not been adequately consulted throughout the environmental impact statement process which Dr Kemp has overseen.


Clinton Wanganeen is the ATSIC Commissioner for the area covered by the three proposed sites. He says consultation with indigenous groups has been token at best.


CLINTON WANGANEEN: The community hasn’t had a chance to express a lot of their concerns and I think they haven’t been given the recognition as the traditional owners. They should be spoken to in depth.


NANCE HAXTON: The expected announcement this week of the final site for the repository will be the latest chapter in a long-winded process that began in 1992. However, opposition to the project has grown in past months. In February, Australia’s space industry and the Defence Department revealed they had grave concerns about the federal government’s preferred site for the project titled 52A. South Australia’s state government passed legislation in March, banning both the repository and the transport of radioactive waste from interstate on South Australian roads.


Democrats Senator, Aden Ridgeway, says indigenous people’s views have and will continue to be overlooked if they disagree with the establishment of a nuclear waste dump.


ADEN RIDGEWAY: If the minister does make a decision and the government enacts the compulsory acquisition of land under the Land Acquisition Act, then clearly that’s going to set aside any processes or procedural fairness that might apply under the Native Title Act.


NANCE HAXTON: However, a spokeswoman for Environment Minister, Dr Kemp, says an entire section of the environmental impact statement is devoted to Aboriginal consultation and referred AM ’s inquiries to Federal Minister for Science, Peter McGauran. His spokeswoman says there have been extensive negotiations with Aboriginal groups since at least 1998, resulting in some sites being removed from consideration because of heritage concerns.


LINDA MOTTRAM: Nance Haxton reporting from Adelaide.