Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The nuclear war against Australia's Aboriginal people
Jim Green The Ecologist July 14, 2014
Australia's nuclear industry has a shameful history of 'radioactive racism' that dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s. The same attitudes have been evident in recent debates over uranium mines and nuclear waste, but Aboriginal peoples are fighting back!
We will be still talking about our story in the communities up north so no one else has to go through this. We want to let the whole world know that we stood up very strong.
The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga in South Australia.
Permission was not sought from affected Aboriginal groups such as the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Tjarutja and Kokatha.
Thousands of people were adversely affected and the impact on Aboriginal people was particularly profound.
Many Aboriginal people suffered from radiological poisoning. There are tragic accounts of families sleeping in the bomb craters. So-called 'Native Patrol Officers' patrolled thousands of square kilometres to try to ensure that Aboriginal people were removed before nuclear tests took place - with little success.
'Ignorance, incompetence and cynicism'
The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety was characterised by ‘ignorance, incompetence and cynicism’. Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their homelands and taken to places such as the Yalata mission in South Australia, which was effectively a prison camp…………
Radioactive ransom - dumping on the Northern Territory
Since 2006 successive federal governments have been attempting to establish a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, 110 km north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.
A toxic trade-off of basic services for a radioactive waste dump has been part of this story from the start. The nomination of the Muckaty site was made with the promise of $12 million compensation package comprising roads, houses and scholarships…………..
The politics is no less dirty
The Liberal / National Coalition government led by John Howard passed legislation - the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005 - overriding the Aboriginal Heritage Act, undermining the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, and allowing the imposition of a nuclear dump with no Aboriginal consultation or consent………..
Aboriginal owners savour a rare victory
Muckaty Traditional Owners were determined to stop the dump and they have been supported by the Beyond Nuclear Initiative; a pro bono legal team led by legal firm Maurice Blackburn; the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance; key trade unions including the Australian Council of Trade Unions; church groups; medical and public health organisations; local councils; the Australian Greens; and environment groups such as Friends of the Earth, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Environment Centre NT……………
Dumping on South Australia
The failed attempt to establish a dump at Muckaty followed the failed attempt to establish a dump in South Australia. In 1998, the Howard government announced its intention to build a nuclear waste dump near Woomera in South Australia.
Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA. Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu in the 1950s…………
Victory in the Federal Court
The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to 'get their ears out of their pockets', and after six years the government did just that.
In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election - after a Federal Court ruling that the federal government had acted illegally in stripping Traditional Owners of their native title rights, and with the dump issue biting politically in SA - the Howard government decided to cut its losses and abandon the dump plan……………..
Muckaty Traditional Owners have won a significant battle for country and culture, but the problems and patterns of radioactive racism persist. Racism in the uranium mining industry involves: ignoring the concerns of Traditional Owners; divide-and-rule tactics; radioactive ransom; 'humbugging' Traditional Owners (exerting persistent, unwanted pressure); providing Traditional Owners with false information; and threats, including legal threats……………
Nuclear interests trump aboriginal rights
Thus the Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth's Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed……….
Read more http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2476704/the_nuclear_war_against_australias_aboriginal_people.html