Flinders Ranges Traditional Owners take radioactive waste concerns to Australian Human Rights Commission

18 December 2018
Traditional Owners have lodged an Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) complaint alleging a fundamentally flawed process in the consideration of a site near Hawker as a proposed national radioactive waste facility.

The complaint, also being provided to the Australian Government, demonstrates the Traditional Owners’ continuing opposition to the nomination of Wallerberdina Station as a place to both dispose and store federal radioactive waste.

The complaint has been prepared on a pro-bono basis by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on behalf of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA).

It alleges that both the ballot to assess community support for the waste facility, which excludes many traditional owners, and the damage done to significant cultural heritage sites by Commonwealth contractors constitutes unlawful discrimination.

Maurice Blackburn lawyer Nicki Lees, acting for ATLA, said the nomination process for the Hawker site has been fundamentally flawed from its inception and the AHRC complaint is necessary to seek independent insight into the adequacy of the process.

“From day one this process has shown a complete lack of regard for the Traditional Owners and for the significance of this site to the Adnyamathanha people,” Ms Lees said.

Vince Coulthard, CEO of ATLA and proud Adnyamathanha man, said that “ATLA remains strongly opposed to any nomination of their land for a future radioactive waste dump site and the lodging of an AHRC complaint is important in seeking a fair hearing for our deep concerns”.

There are also serious probity questions to be answered about this process – including the nomination of the site by senior South Australian Liberal Party figure Grant Chapman, without prior consultation with the Traditional Owners.

A separate application challenging the lawfulness of a ballot to assess community support in the Kimba region by the Barngarla people for the proposed waste facility is also currently before the Federal Court of Australia.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers previously acted pro-bono on behalf of Traditional Owners who successfully overturned the nomination of Muckaty Station as a radioactive waste dump in the Northern Territory.

Media inquiries: Rebecca Nash at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on 0438 497 539 or Jade Thompson at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on 0417 969 438.

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