Press conference in Alice Springs announcing Muckaty campaign win: June 19, 2014
This Friday June 19 marks one year since the federal government agreed not to pursue plans for a national radioactive waste dump at Muckaty, 120km north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.
The historic decision was the result of a long and dedicated campaign by Traditional Owners and supporters right across the country- thank you again to everyone who contributed in such a variety of practical, creative and important ways.
The solidarity and support from trade unions, students, artists, lawyers, health professionals, environment groups and other communities who had been targeted earlier in the process was a significant boost to morale and kept the Muckaty community focused on the often daunting task of challenging both the federal government and Northern Land Council.
“It’s really a frightening situation that people aren’t going to have a say about what’s stuck there, buried in their own lands. We are not prepared to be the people who transport this back up to bury it in an area where the communities have no say, the Traditional Owners have no say whatsoever about this going in the ground. We need to say this is just not acceptable.”
Maritime Union of Australia Illawarra Branch Secretary Garry Keane (April 22, 2009)
One year on, management of radioactive waste continues to be a national challenge; for many years the Muckaty campaign was calling for an independent inquiry into all options of waste management, including but not limited to a single remote repository. Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane called Muckaty a “disaster” yet decided to again pursue a single remote facility; he has however stated it would only be approved on a genuinely ‘volunteered’ site where land tenure was not contested.
A very short window was provided for landholders to nominate and the Minister is now considering what was submitted and preparing to shortlist sites. Unfortunately, these nominations are not being made public, which has already raised concerns about lack of transparency, consultation and consent from areas where nominations have been exposed by the media.
However, though we are collectively watching the new process very carefully, it is important this week to celebrate the tenacity of the Muckaty mob in winning their long struggle!
To commemorate this fantastic victory, NITV will be screening the documentary “Protecting Manuwangku” on Friday night at 8:30pm. The film was produced by Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at UTS and documents the community preparing for the annual Muckaty protest rally and concert. Tune in Friday night at 8:30pm and invite your family and friends to do the same.
Some celebratory images will be circulated on social media via Beyond Nuclear Initiative: please like the BNI page on facebook or follow BNI on twitter and send these around to all of your contacts.
Finally, a really sincere thank you to everyone for your ongoing support for the BNI project. With the final allocated funding for the project having been stretched much further that even we thought possible, any end of financial year donations to keep BNI rolling will be gratefully accepted and put to very good use.
BNI is a joint project of Australian Conservation Foundation and Friends of the Earth Australia, hosted by the Arid Lands Environment Centre in Alice Springs and Environment Centre NT in Darwin.
The following poem was written by Muckaty Traditional Owner Isobel Phillips