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Thursday, 20 June 1996
Page: 2004

Senator WOODLEY(7.30 p.m.) —The explanation of the previous speaker, Senator Abetz, was helpful, but I will, of course, read the Hansard and bring a further submission to the Senate if need be.

I wish to place on record some concerns I have with the process for assessing the Jabiluka mine proposal. I do this on behalf of some of the Aboriginal people in that area who have deep concerns about this proposal. The senior traditional owner for the area, Yvonne Margarula, has expressed not once but several times the complete opposition of traditional owners to the project going ahead. The impression, however, has been created that the majority of the traditional owners are of another view. I understand that this is not the case. We are assured that the majority of the traditional owners are opposed to a go-ahead for the Jabiluka project.

Yvonne Margarula talks of the poison to her people and the poison to her land resulting from the mine. She is concerned about the impacts on the river system and the impacts on the health of her people. She is worried about alcoholism and death rates in her family and her community. I might add that I have had 35 years experience with Aboriginal communities—living in them, working with them and supporting them—in almost every state of the Commonwealth. I can underline the devastating effect that development close to traditional Aboriginal communities has had upon those communities. What is being said by this woman is not being lightly said, but is very much a cry from the depths of her heart. She is worried about her family and her community.

Senator Hill has stated repeatedly that he regards the consent of the traditional owners of Jabiluka as essential. However, now that the traditional owners, represented by the senior traditional owner of the land, have so clearly indicated their opposition, the Democrats trust that he will listen to them and respond appropriately.