The 2013 meeting of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) was held on the weekend of October 25-27 on the land of the Peramangk people in the Adelaide Hills. The Alliance brings together Aboriginal people, environment and health groups and trade union representatives concerned about uranium and nuclear projects.
The ANFA gathering was attended by representatives of the following Aboriginal nations, organisations and affiliated groups:
Alyawarr, Anmatjere, Arabana, Arrernte, Bailai, Gurindji, Iwaidja, Katyede, Koara, Kokatha/Anterkirinya, Kokatha/Mirning, Kokatha/Narrangar, Larrakia, Martu, Meriam, Mir, Eastern Torres Strait Islands, Ngalia, Nyoongar, Kunarakun, Ngarninjarra/ Pitjantjatjarra/ Yankunytjatjara, Tanganekald/Meintangk, Tjupan, Walpiri, Wajarri Yamatji, Warlmanpa, Warumungu, Wulgurukaba.
Arid Lands Environment Centre, Australian Conservation Foundation, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, Conservation Council of Western Australia, Environment Centre of the Northern Territory, Friends of the Earth, Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, Hands Around the World, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Maritime Union of Australia (NSW and NT), Medical Association for Prevention of War, South Coast Trades and Labour Council (NSW), Public Health Association Australia (NT), National Tertiary Education Union (NSW), Uranium Free NSW, Western Australia Nuclear Free Alliance.
Issues and concerns discussed at the meeting included:
Land Rights, Sovereignty and Native Title
Self-determination and access to country are at the heart of the struggle for Aboriginal rights. Many delegates know first hand that pressure from companies and government to say yes to mining is strong and divisive. In the face of seemingly unstoppable projects people often feel their only option is to participate in negotiations and try to get the best deal they can. Legal structures are set up to assist mining companies and divide communities but if people stay strong and united, unwanted mines can be stopped.
Uranium exploration and mining
Pressure for uranium mining and exploration across almost all states and territories continues to increase. The nuclear industry puts a lot of effort into talking up its prospects but sustained low uranium prices have caused multiple mining proposals to be shelved or abandoned.
Uranium mining and exploration put finite groundwater supplies at risk, particularly in desert regions where maintaining clean water is critical for life and culture.
In the past twelve months the newly elected Queensland government reversed a long-standing state ban and declared Queensland open for uranium mining. Many people came from Queensland to attend the meeting, link in with and resist this new push. New South Wales also had good representation as the government there recently reversed a 26 year ban on uranium exploration.
The women’s group heard and talked about the health impacts of radiation. ANFA members know that there is no safe dose of radiation and that being informed about risk is powerful. The importance of clean safe drinking water was spoken about strongly and the group resolved to work with desert communities where bore water is contaminated with uranium to ensure a safe water supply.
The men heard about the direct and inter-generational threats of uranium mining and exposure to radioactive materials. The group shared experiences and concerns over the lack of available and credible information about the health and environmental impacts of radiation exposures and highlighted the need for improved monitoring. There was discussion around options for increased formal cooperation with trade unions about advancing ways to improve the monitoring deficit and it was agreed that environment and public health NGO’s would further communicate with unions about this. The men also discussed alternatives to nuclear medicine and that nuclear medicine does not require uranium mining or waste dumps.
Thousands of tonnes of nuclear materials travel across Australia every year to be shipped out of Darwin and Adelaide. Trucks carrying radioactive cargo travel through many towns and food production areas. ANFA supports the right of all communities to refuse the transport of nuclear materials through the places they live and work. The meeting welcomed a strong commitment from MUA representatives that no nuclear materials would be shipped out of ports along the NSW coast.
Radioactive Waste Management
ANFA acknowledges the long struggle of the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta against a proposed radioactive waste dump on their land. The current campaign to stop the waste dump at Muckaty in the NT is the same struggle and we all stand together. Muckaty Traditional Owners have travelled tirelessly to gather support from around the country. A federal court challenge is underway and there is a commitment from key health groups, environmental organisations and trade unions to support the community struggle. ANFA supports the call for an independent and public commission into radioactive waste management in Australia.
ANFA has links to the anti-nuclear struggle in many countries. In recent months representatives of ANFA have travelled to Japan, France and Tanzania to share and hear stories of resistance to uranium mining, nuclear power and radioactive waste dumps. The meeting received messages of support for ANFA from the French and African nuclear-free movements and heard a campaign update from the Japanese anti-nuclear campaign. Our struggles are deeply connected: uranium from Australia is causing contamination in Japan and creating radioactive waste in Europe and Australian mining companies are attempting to mine uranium in Africa. ANFA opposes Japanese plans to extract Australian-obligated plutonium from spent nuclear at the Rokkasho reprocessing plant. ANFA stands with and supports all communities resisting the nuclear industry here in Australia and across the world.
As the dust starts to settle and Australia reflects on the outcomes of the recent federal election many Aboriginal people have growing concerns over Tony Abbotts new Indigenous Advisory Council and the agenda behind its plans for ‘real action for Indigenous Australians’.
The Council appears to be on the road from idea to institution, with scant consultation or consent from Aboriginal and Islander people. In the style that has marked so much of successive governments approaches to our issues the proposed Council is top down and unrepresentative with Tony Abbott and Nigel Scullion being joined at the table by Warren Mundine, Noel Pearson and Marcia Langton.
There may be more Aboriginal ‘leaders’ involved, but who knows – and that is the whole point. Unlike ATSIC or the newly re-elected National Congress – with all their limitations and flaws – the Indigenous Advisory Council is hand-picked by the politicians, not promoted by our people.
This is not to say that these three individuals do not have things to offer and positive contributions to make. But they do not have a mandate to represent all our views and they hold views about Aboriginal ‘development’ that are far removed from the lived experience and deeply held aspirations of many Aboriginal people. Particularly in relation to the role of the State and of the resource sector in the Coalitions new ‘open for business’ Australia.
In 2012 Marcia Langton outlined her views through the Boyer lecture series titled ‘The Quiet Revolution: Indigenous People and the Resources Boom’. Her view that mining is helping to pull Aboriginal people out of poverty was widely promoted through the ABC and Fairfax media. What was less advanced was her connection to the resource sector through the Rio Tinto group and her involvement with the Australian Uranium Associations ‘Indigenous Dialogue Group’.
Warren Mundine is not only the co-convenor of the Uranium Association’s Indigenous Dialogue Group but is also a Director of the Australian Uranium Association. His views on the nuclear industry are in conflict with those of many in Aboriginal Australia living with the legacy of nuclear testing or actively resisting uranium mining and radioactive waste dumping on their country.
We all want to make things better for our people but there is a real danger in talking about the interests of mining and the need for change in Aboriginal Australia as though they are the same thing. They are not. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We three and many people – do not believe that mining is in the best interest for our families, the long term health of our country or will stop the suicides, alcohol abuse, violence, or raise the level of education and access to health services.
If mining meant these things then the Aboriginal communities of the Pilbara would have a very different set of social indicators than the current ones.
Mining is not a panacea for addressing the social, cultural and economic disadvantage of Aboriginal people. The resource sector does have a role and a responsibility to address issues and improve outcomes in areas where it operates but governments must be held to account to meet their responsibility to provide the roads, schools, housing, health services and other infrastructure that people in cities and towns take for granted.
Basic citizenship entitlements – hard won by our predecessors following the historic 1967 referendum – should never be tied to or traded around proximity and access to a mineral deposit.
Mining is neither a new development nor a new answer to old problems. Mining has been around for hundreds of years. Look at Aboriginal life in Australia’s mining regions around Roeborne, Port Hedland and Port Augusta. Spend a couple of days out at Laverton, go talk to the folks at the missions in Kalgoorlie and tell us mining is pulling Aboriginal people out of poverty or reducing the rates of kidney disease and cancers. Look at the youth suicide rates, our people’s lack of representation in Parliaments and over representation in prisons. It’s not as simple as saying mining will pull us out of poverty, stop the welfare dependence and ‘save us’. It hasn’t done it in the last 200 years of occupation and excavation.
Even in 2013 community development is at the front end of mining, particularly during approvals and heritage clearance. But as soon as the commodity price drops or costs increase it is the community development budget that is cut. After the first round of flash cars and payments once the digging begins life too often becomes reduced to footy carnivals, training programs, a couple of cleaning jobs – and high profile pictures in the company’s annual report.
The establishment of the Indigenous Advisory Council, two thirds of who are directly aligned with the controversial uranium industry does not bode well for advancing a mature conversation around and action on the problems of Aboriginal inequality and disadvantage. At the very least the NIC should include community representatives with diverse backgrounds and views.
You can’t have your yellowcake and eat it too: the members of the Indigenous Advisory Council should declare their interests and stand down from their involvement with either the Council or the Australian Uranium Association.
The 2012 meeting of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) was held on the weekend of
October 5-7 on the land of the Arrernte people in Alice Springs. The Alliance brings together
Aboriginal people, environment and health groups and trade union representatives concerned about uranium and nuclear projects.
Since we last met in September 2011, it has been confirmed in Federal Parliament that uranium from Australia was inside the stricken nuclear reactors at Fukushima. This news has had profound impacts on ANFA representatives, especially those whose country the uranium came from.
The ANFA gathering was attended by representatives of the following Aboriginal nations,
organisations and affiliated groups: Alyawarr, Anmatjere, Arabana, Arrernte, Gurindji, Iwaidja, Katyede, Koara, Kokatha/Anterkirinya, Kokatha/Mirning, Kokatha/Narrangar, Larrakia, Mirarr, Ngalia, Nyoongar Pitjantjatjarra, Tjupan, Walpiri, Wajarri Yamatji, Warlmanpa, Warramungu, Wongutha, Yamatji.
Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Alliance, Arid Lands Environment Centre, Australian
Conservation Foundation, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, Choose Nuclear Free, Conservation Council of Western Australia, Environment Centre of the Northern Territory, Environmental Defenders Office, Friends of the Earth, Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Maritime Union of Australia, Medical Association for Prevention of War, Sortir Du Nucleaire (France) and the West Australian Nuclear Free Alliance.
The meeting addressed a range of issues and themes including:
Uranium exploration and mining
ANFA representatives from around the country spoke about uranium exploration and mining in each state and territory. Across Australia the nuclear industry is tireless and insidious in its efforts to gain a foothold at any cost. Pressure for uranium exploration is increasing in many places and mining companies are hopeful that new conservative state governments will weaken current restrictions.
While some Australian governments may be complicit in wanting to expand the nuclear industry, internationally the winds of change are blowing with many nuclear powered countries committing to phase out this toxic energy source.
The women’s health session at ANFA called on our female politicians to listen to the personal
stories of the many generations of women affected by the Maralinga fallout and stand up for justice for affected communities, workers, and veterans. The women supported those affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster especially the women there who have acted strongly against the nuclear industry. We stand in solidarity with the women protesting against the Kudankulam nuclear reactor in India. We will do everything we can to highlight and stop the flow of uranium from Australia to India.
Representatives expressed deep concerns over the impacts of the transport of radioactive
materials and called for federal radioactive waste to remain at designated federal storage sites at Woomera (SA) and Lucas Heights (NSW) until there has been an independent public review of radioactive waste management in Australia.
Despite nuclear industry assurances, we know that there is no safe dose of radiation. Many people at ANFA have personal or family experiences of health effects including from the atomic tests. There has never been compensation for atomic testing, which impacted Aboriginal people so greatly. Industry advocates claims that low levels of exposure to radiation are safe, that we need a nuclear industry to treat people with cancer, or that nuclear accidents like the Fukushima explosion are not too bad, but these claims are all false. The meeting affirmed its commitment to challenging the misleading claims of the nuclear industry and to building and strengthening alliances with health organisations.
Muckaty Traditional Owners updated the meeting on the campaign against the proposed national radioactive waste dump, calling it beautiful country that floods and tremors. Custodians talked about unity and solidarity for each other to ensure that when we stop the dump at Muckaty the government will not simply target another remote area. Radioactive waste is a national problem. We need to stop this toxic trade from the source: no uranium mining. ANFA resolved that radioactive waste should be stored at the federally designated facilities – Lucas Heights and Woomera – where we have nuclear expertise, until there has been a comprehensive inquiry into the least worst way to manage this waste.
ANFA calls for all nuclear material to be clearly labelled during transport and for all workers to be informed in advance if they will be handling these materials. ANFA supports the rights of all communities to refuse the transport of nuclear material through the places they live and work. ANFA calls on the government to publicise information about the routes and transport of nuclear material on rail and roads. We offer our support and solidarity to emergency services workers who are faced with the greatest risk. We will communicate with workers and share information about transport routes and risks. The meeting endorsed the Nuclear Freeways campaign.
ANFA will continue to engage with trade unions. We are all workers, we are all people with families and children and we are all concerned about the future. ANFA was also described as a union in its own right. We will work with community groups, churches, doctors and all people opposed to the nuclear industry. There was acknowledgement of the struggles we have with fair representation in the media. We resolved to work hard to become our own media producers.
Solidarity with India
Against a backdrop of rising resistance to nuclear power in India the meeting heard and expressed concerns about the Australian government’s intention to sell uranium to that country. ANFA resolved to send a message of support to Indian anti-nuclear activists to coincide with Prime Minister Gillard’s visit in mid October.
The meeting called for a moratorium on all uranium mining and dumping of nuclear waste in
Australia pending a public inquiry into the impacts of all aspects of the nuclear industry including uranium exploration, mining and exports as well as health impacts on communities living with the legacy of nuclear weapons and uranium mines.
Australian Nuclear Free Alliance 2011 Statement
The 2011 meeting of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance was held on the weekend September 9-11 on the land of the Undoolya people in Alice Springs. The meeting coincided with events worldwide marking six months since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began in Japan. The meeting was also at the same time as the 10 week Walk Away From Uranium Mining in Western Australia.
ANFA 2011 was attended by representatives of the following Aboriginal and Indigenous Nations and organisations:
Arabunna, Arrernte (central and eastern), Kadyede, Kokatha/Anterkirinya, Kokatha/Mirning, Kokatha/Narrangar, Larrakia, Mirarr, Navajo, Wajarri Yamatji, Warumungu, Warlmanpa, Warlpiri, Whagjuk/Yuet, Wilman/Bibulman.
Arid Lands Environment Centre, Australian Conservation Foundation, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, Choose Nuclear Free, Conservation Council WA, Environment Centre NT, Environmental Defenders Office (NT), French Network for a Nuclear Phase out, Friends of the Earth (Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane), Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, Medical Association for Prevention of War, Mundatharra Aboriginal Corporation, National Tertiary Education Union (NSW), Public Health Association of Australia, Western Australian Nuclear Free Alliance.
The meeting opened with a statement from Mirarr Senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margurula who has expressed great sadness that uranium mined from her country in Kakadu National Park is fuelling the radiation problems at Fukushima. A message of solidarity was also sent from Djok Senior Traditional Owner Jeffery Lee, who is fighting to see his country at Koongarra incorporated into Kakadu National Park to protect it forever from uranium mining.
The meeting resolved the following statements:
It is important to expose the fact that Aboriginal people have very limited rights to say no to uranium mining: Land Rights give you some rights; Native Title gives you no rights.
Following a legal briefing the meeting agreed to:
- work with groups that campaign and advocate on this issue and inform Land Councils and representative bodies of this concern
- challenge and push Land Councils and representative bodies to represent their constituents and ensure the counter-industry view is provided
- remind Land Councils and representative bodies that they are legally required to represent Traditional Owners and not mining companies and they need to start doing this or face legal action.
Despite nuclear industry assurances, we know that there is no safe dose of radiation. Many people at ANFA have personal or family experiences of these health effects including from the atomic tests. There has never been compensation for atomic testing, which impacted Aboriginal people so greatly. The industry claims that low levels of exposure to radiation are safe, that we need a nuclear industry to treat people with cancer, or that previous nuclear accidents like the recent Fukushima explosion are not too bad, but these claims are all false. The meeting affirmed its commitment to challenging the false claims of the nuclear industry and to building and strengthening alliance with Aboriginal and mainstream health groups.
Australia’s involvement in the nuclear trade has global implications. The meeting was joined by anti-nuclear activists from the Navajo Nation and France. The group discussed how all uranium exported from Australia ends up as nuclear weapons or nuclear waste and causes problems for people in many different countries. ANFA affirmed a commitment to working with fellow activists across all nations for a nuclear free future.
The meeting agreed that nuclear power is no solution to climate change and that Australia’s energy future must be renewable not radioactive. The meeting resolved to work with climate change activists to debunk claims that nuclear power has a role to play in reducing greenhouse emissions.
The meeting heard a first hand report on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the spread of radioactive contamination in Japan. Supported by anti-nuclear groups, people in Japan are fighting the lax radiation protection standards set by the government. The ongoing Fukushima disaster makes it imperative that Australia acknowledges the costs and consequences of exporting uranium. This is particularly important given that uranium from Ranger and Olympic Dam is sold to Japanese utilities.
The meeting heard from Muckaty Traditional Owners and representatives from other NT communities targeted for a national radioactive waste dump. The current plan offers Traditional Owners at Muckaty compensation to host the dump in the form of roads, housing and education scholarships. These are basic human rights and essential services and should be provided by government anyway – citizenship entitlements should not be dependent on communities accepting a radioactive waste dump. The meeting resolved to support any Traditional Owners facing this toxic bargain, urged people to resist waste transport through their land and called for responsible radioactive waste management by leaving it close to the site of production, scientific expertise and scrutiny.
Walk Away from Uranium Mining
The meeting acknowledged and supported the efforts of those currently involved in the Walk Away from Uranium Mining – a walk from Wiluna to Perth to highlight the cultural and environmental impacts of uranium mining. Some international members of the Walk attended the ANFA meeting to share their stories.
The meeting shared stories of working with trade unions. Unions have a long and successful history of campaigning on behalf of their members and of supporting communities including the campaign against the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor. The meeting heard that there are many simple ways to work with unions to make campaigns stronger. Union liaison and cooperation on the NT waste dump campaign is set to grow in the coming period.
The meeting called for a moratorium on all uranium mining and dumping of nuclear waste in Australia, pending a public inquiry into the impacts of uranium exports overseas and implications of Australian uranium used in Japan by TEPCO at the Fukushima reactor.
2009 MEETING STATEMENT
The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) met on Nukunu country in Quorn, South Australia, on the weekend of September 5th-6th to take part in our annual national gathering of Aboriginal people and NGOs, focussing on grassroots resistance to the nuclear industry in Australia.
Over the past twelve years ANFA has brought together Aboriginal people living with, or threatened by, nuclear projects and uranium mining on their country, along with representatives from environment and public health organisations who are actively opposing the industry.
The ANFA committee is driven by Aboriginal voices and strengthened by community input. ANFA is a forum where our voices are truly heard and respected, and where we are empowered through a genuinely supportive meeting process. A new committee was elected at the gathering, with broad national representation, including for the first time Aboriginal representatives from WA and Qld.
At this years gathering Traditional Owners learnt there are many Aboriginal people who share similar concerns about aspects of Native Title, especially in regards to uranium mining. Attendees demonstrated a clear opposition to new mines in the SA & NT, and are united in our stance against any attempt to impose a radioactive waste dump in the NT.
All participants expressed anger and disappointment with federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett, who recently approved another uranium mine, Beverley Four Mile, in SA, and the expansion of the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu, NT. Participants stated strongly that they do not want this poison (uranium) going overseas to contaminate other countries and communities via nuclear weapons, power stations/reactors or radioactive waste stockpiles.
ANFA members totally reject the misguided notion that nuclear power is an answer to climate change, due to : the enormous amounts of fossil fuels and clean water required to mine and process uranium, unresolved issues of ground water contamination, increased transportation of radioactive materials and radioactive waste management – including highly toxic tailings dams that will remain for millenia, polluting the local environment long after the companies have gone.
An affiliated cultural group from South Australia – said:
“Leave the poisons in the ground, no mining expansions anywhere”, Eileen Wingfield. (ANFA Honorary President).
“Buthaoo Weir. Munda Yamadoo Iliga” – (No poisons. Leave the land/ground as it is), Marsena Coleman-Richards.
“Leave our land clean and poison free, for our children, generation to generation”. Sue Haseldine (ANFA committee member).
Traditional Owners & Bloodline Custodians from South Australia – said:
“The awi (water) is a precious and sacred part of our culture and we know it must be protected and kept clean for all Australians and their future generations” said Adnyamathanha Elder Enice Marsh
“The creek beds and waterways are being carved up by exploration drill holes. Our land is being raped by mining companies and we feel powerless to stop it because the governments are not taking care of the land like they should be. What good is environmental legislation if the government does not use it to protect our lands and waters” said Native Title Applicant Thathy Anderson
Some of the impacts, from Uranium mining and radioactive tailings dams, on people and country have never been documented or published, however, Aboriginal people on the ground have , past and present, witnessed the impacts first hand.
“We have seen Kanagroo’s going blind, and birds with white sores on their legs”, Geraldine Anderson
Traditional Owners and Bloodline Custodians from Western Australia – said:
“Uranium mining has not happened in WA but there is a lot of talk that it could. We are concerned about this and have traveled across to Nukunu country, Southern Flinders Ranges in South Australia. We have listened to people who have been living with uranium mining on their lands.
We are representatives of the Yamatji Marlpa Barna Baba Maaja Aboriginal Corporation (Port Hedland), the Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (Carnarvon region), Wangatha People and the Noongar Nations. After hearing their stories we understand the devastating impact of uranium mining on country, culture and families who have been affected from generation to generation. Affecting the spirit of the land affects the spirit of our people. As land protectors we do not want our country to get sick, and will work together to keep it, and us strong.”
Traditional Owners & Bloodline Custodians from Northern Territory – said:
“The uranium industry has way too much support from both sides of federal politics, the pro-nuclear lobby is very powerful in this country. Many generous concessions have been granted to large companies – such as free access and use of literally billions of litres of clean Artesian waters – (ie BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam – SA water indenture act) enabling the rapid expansion of existing mines, or the creation of new ones, often against the wishes of bona fide TOs. ANFA is the only national anti-nuclear forum, that listens to the voices of our people, we work hard, for no money, to get the word out to the wider community.” Donna Jackson (re elected ANFA co-chair, 2009)
“I speak up on behalf of my brother and that’s one of the proposed waste dump areas and the sad thing about it is he has a little tourism business and that’s our hunting ground, we go out there every weekend to get bush medicine, bush tucker and kanagroos and I am also fighting against the (Northern Territory Emergency Response) Intervention. All that area, its all under the Intervention. So I am fighting two wars at the moment, its making it really hard for us”. Audrey McCormack (Alice Springs)
“Since campaigning against the Intervention, I have come to learn about uranium mining and the waste dump issues in the NT. Today people are playing a numbers game and the only way we can fight is we get the people power and that’s what I am working towards because its all about human rights for everyone, everywhere”. Barbara Shaw (Mt Nancy Camp, Alice Springs)
This years gathering was attended by the following Aboriginal nations and NGOs;
Nukunu (SA); Kokatha Mula (SA); Kokatha (SA); Noongar Nations (WA); Yamatji Marlpa Barna Baba Maaja Aboriginal Corporation (Port Hedland, WA); Yamatji Marlpa Aborioginal Corporation (Carnarvon region, WA); Wangatha People (WA); Darumbal Nation (Central Queensland); Warlpiri (Central NT); Arrernte (Central NT); Kaytetye (Central NT); Warumungu (Central NT); Anmatjere (Central NT); Larrakia Nation (Darwin NT); West Mallee Protection; Anti Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia; Ban Uranium Mining Permanently campaign (WA); Beyond Nuclear Initiative; Conservation Council of Western Australia; Top End Aboriginal Conservation Alliance; Mineral Policy Institute; Friends of the Earth Australia; Australian Conservation Foundation; Australian Student Environment Network; Arid Lands Environment Centre; Environment Centre NT.
Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) 2008 Statement
The 2008 Alliance meeting was held on Limilngan country near the Mary River, in the top end of the Northern Territory from August 29-31. The meeting was attended by representatives and traditional custodians of the Larrakia, Wulna, Arrernte, Warlpiri, Pitjantjatjara, Pambalong Clan from Kattung Nation, Wiradjeri, Arabunna, Adnyamathanha, Kokatha Mula and Kokatha Nations, and by representatives of the Top End Aboriginal Conservation Alliance, Arid Lands Environment Centre, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Medical Association for Prevention of War, Friends of the Earth, Australian Conservation Foundation, Environment Centre of the NT, Darwin Aboriginal Rights Coalition, Australian Greens, Queensland Nuclear Free Alliance, Australian Students Environment Network, No Waste Alliance, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, and Mineral Policy Institute.
The meeting celebrated 11 years of solidarity and effective resistance to the nuclear industry in Australia. Alliance members reaffirmed their commitment to continue active campaigning for a nuclear free Australia and agreed on a range of plans and strategies for the coming year.
The meeting elected an Alliance Committee to increase capacity to effectively campaign for a nuclear-free future. The Alliance committed to work towards global peace and building a broad alliance to end the nuclear chain.
Meeting participants agreed on the following statements:
The Alliance affirmed strong opposition to uranium exploration and mining, expressing concerns about the health effects on community and environment, including bush foods and water. Many participants object to the lack of meaningful and respectful consultation about uranium exploration and mining, for example the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT) laws that roll exploration and mining consent into one process – the meeting called for this process to be separated. Rehabilitation of poisoned lands is not guaranteed or trusted.
The meeting noted and supported the continuing opposition of the WA and Queensland governments to uranium mining and called on those governments to maintain these bans.
The meeting expressed concern about the unsustainable use and pollution of precious and threatened water resources by uranium mining and processing. Examples include the destruction of Mound Springs on Arabunna land by the extraction of up to 42 million litres of water daily for the Roxby Downs (Olympic Dam) mine; the pollution of wetlands in Kakadu by a series of leaks and spills from the Ranger mine; and the pollution of groundwater on Adnyamathanha land from the Beverley mine with no requirement to rehabilitate polluted water. The meeting condemned the recent decision of federal environment minister Peter Garrett to approve an expansion of the Beverley mine.
The meeting noted that Australia’s uranium exports contribute to water problems overseas because nuclear power consumes more water than any other energy source. The meeting agreed to work together to continue to raise issues about water use and pollution by the nuclear chain, including during National Water Week in October 2008.
The meeting expressed concern about the risk of Australian uranium contributing to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The meeting expressed opposition to the dangerous lie that so-called ‘safeguards’ will prevent military use of Australian uranium.
As a dirty, dangerous and non-renewable resource with clear links to the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, nuclear power was recognised as no answer to climate change.
RADIOACTIVE WASTE DUMP
The Alliance heard the continued and emphatic opposition by Traditional Owners and affected communities to the proposed federal radioactive waste dump in the NT and will continue to work together to end this threat.
The meeting condemned federal energy and resources minister Martin Ferguson for failing to repeal the racist Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act which allows for the dumping of nuclear waste on Aboriginal land without consultation or consent. Repeal of this law was a clear promise before the 2007 federal election and the meeting called on Prime Minister Rudd to direct Mr Ferguson to repeal the Act.
The Alliance continues to strongly oppose the dumping of radioactive waste in the Northern Territory.
LAND RIGHTS / INTERVENTION
The meeting committed to ongoing support for Indigenous people defending country, culture and communities and for the right to assert sovereignty.
The meeting expressed strong concerns over land rights, the native title system and the NT intervention. The current federal intervention in the NT undermines Indigenous rights. Removing communities rights to control land will never improve their ability to control their lives.
The Alliance calls upon the government to end the NT intervention and end the nuclear industry in Australia.
Australian Nuclear Free Alliance*
Meeting Statement: August 2007
The meeting took place on Werre Therre land, 40 kilometres from Alice Springs on the weekend of August 11-12, 2007. The meeting site is three kilometres from country threatened by the Federal Government’s plan to impose a radioactive waste dump in the Northern Territory.
The meeting celebrated ten years of solidarity and effective resistance to the imposition or expansion of the nuclear industry in Australia. Since it began in 1997, the Alliance has been part of successful campaigns against uranium mining at Jabiluka and nuclear waste dumping in South Australia. Alliance members reaffirmed their commitment to continue active campaigning for a nuclear free Australia.
The Alliance heard the continued and emphatic opposition by Traditional Owners to the proposed federal radioactive waste dump in the NT and will continue to work together to end this threat. The cultural, social and environmental impacts of the toxic uranium industry are of deep concern – particularly its unsustainable use and contamination of precious water resources, links with nuclear weapons and production of radioactive waste. This most hazardous industry was recognised as no answer to climate change.
The current aggressive nuclear push has been characterised by extreme lack of community consultation and heavy handed laws and policies. This is echoed on Indigenous lands around the world. The current federal intervention in the NT undermines Indigenous rights. Linking land access and tenure to addressing child sexual abuse is a Trojan Horse. Removing a community’s right to control their land will never improve that community’s ability to control their lives.
The meeting committed to ongoing support for Indigenous people defending country, culture and communities. Alliance members will work collaboratively and creatively to maintain a high public profile for nuclear issues before, during and after the federal election.
*The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance has evolved from the Alliance against Uranium (formed in 1997). The name change has been adopted to better reflect the opposition of the group to the diverse range of nuclear threats currently facing Australia.
Statement of the Alliance Against Uranium
July 29-30 2006
The meeting was attended by members from Arrernte, Luritja, Adnymathahana, Arabunna, Warlmanpa and Larrakia/Wulna Aboriginal Nations , Engawala and Atitjere communities and environmental, public health and social justice groups including; Friends of the Earth, Medical Association for the Prevention of War, the Anti Nuclear Alliance of WA, Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society, Arid Lands Environment Centre, Environment Centre NT, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, Australian Student Environment Network, Canberra Region Anti Nuclear Campaign, Queensland Nuclear Free Alliance.
The meeting was held on Athenge Lhere land at Mt Everard near Alice Springs in Central Australia. This is one of the areas now being targeted by the Federal Government as a potential Commonwealth radioactive waste dump, along with sites at Harts Range, Fishers Ridge and Muckaty Station – all in the NT.
The meeting opposed plans to dump radioactive waste at any site in the Northern Territory and condemned the imposition of a nuclear dump anywhere in Australia. The meeting recognised the strong opposition from Traditional Owners and committed to actively campaign against the dump across Australia.
The meeting affirmed the right of Traditional Aboriginal Owners to enjoy clean country and clean water and practice strong culture and called on all political parties to oppose moves for more uranium mining, radioactive waste dumping and other nuclear developments.
The meeting heard the deep concerns by Indigenous people over the impacts of nuclear activities on land, water, bush tucker and culture.
Participants at the meeting undertook to build networks, share information and campaign together towards a safe, clean nuclear free Australia.
Fifth Alliance Meeting
September 17-18, 2005
The meeting was attended by representatives of the Adnyamathanha, Kokatha, Kokatha Moola, Warlpiri, Anmatyere, Kungarakun and Gurindji nations and Friends of the Earth, Australian Conservation Foundation, Medical Association for the Prevention of War, Mineral Policy Institute, Campaign Against Nuclear Dumping (SA), Australian Student Environment Network and the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia.
Statement from the Alliance Meeting in South Australia – September 2005
“The Alliance meeting opposed plans to dump nuclear waste in the Northern Territory and addressed the strong concerns held over uranium mining and the risks of radiation.
The meeting re-affirmed the right of this and future generations to a clean environment.
The meeting supported the right of indigenous people to have:
· clean water and safe bush tucker
· strong culture and healthy communities
· protection for their sacred lands and burial grounds
The meeting called on the federal government to respect these things and to not force nuclear projects on unwilling communities
The meeting shared information between people with experience of uranium mining and others who are now facing these questions. The meeting maintained that prior consultation and informed group consent is essential when considering nuclear projects.
The meeting participants committed to share information and stories and to build the links between their groups and peoples to reduce nuclear risks to people and country.
These representatives will take the story and the statement from this meeting back to their communities and groups.”
Representatives attended the fourth Alliance meeting from the following indigenous communities: Adnyamathanha, Kokatha, Arabanna, Kupa Piti Kungka Juta. Representatives of the following non-indigenous environment organisations also attended it: Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Nuclear Issues Coalition SA.
At this meeting a project called ‘Forever Country’ developed a range of culturally appropriate materials that were used by indigenous communities to foster greater awareness of the impacts of nuclear developments on health, country and culture. An agreement was made that opposition to the proposed radioactive waste dump would be a priority and to support the Kungka Juta in their campaign.
Representatives attended the third Alliance meeting from the following indigenous communities: Adnyamathanha, Kupa Piti Kungka Juta, Kokatha, Arabanna. Representatives of the following non-indigenous environment organisations also attended it: Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Arid Lands Environment Centre, and Nuclear Issues Coalition SA.
Statement from the Alliance Meeting in South Australia – October 1999
“Representatives of national and regional environment groups and concerned Aboriginal people from Alice Springs, the Flinders Ranges and Port Augusta met in the Flinders Ranges on 23rd and 24th October 1999.
This meeting reaffirmed the strong opposition to plans to expand the nuclear industry in South Australia. The meeting developed and committed to and active plan to stop the development of a national / international radioactive waste dump.
This plan will include community meeting in Port Augusta and Adelaide and increased campaigning to highlight the environmental and cultural impacts of radioactive waste.
Aboriginal people in South Australia have first hand knowledge of nuclear impacts through the experience of atomic weapons testing at Emu Field and Maralinga and the legacy of uranium mining on their land.
Alliance members do not believe that the Government’s approach to the issue of a radioactive waste dump is has been open or reasonable and refuse to let the country or people of South Australia be treated as a nuclear sacrifice zone.”
Representatives attended the second meeting from the following indigenous communities: Arrernte, Arabanna, Adnyamathanha, Mirrar, Kokatha, Kalakadoon. It was also attended by representatives of the following non-indigenous environment organisations: Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth, Arid Lands Environment Centre, WA Anti Uranium Coalition, Greens WA, Gaia Foundation, Nuclear Issues Coalition SA, Environment Centre NT.
The purpose of the meeting was to have a concrete discussion about the roles of the Alliance and to work out how to get the Alliance better resourced.
A statement of intent was agreed upon:
“The Alliance is made up of indigenous and non-indigenous people opposed to uranium mining and the nuclear fuel cycle. We work to stop the industry from violating human rights and poisoning people and country.
We recognise and respect indigenous rights and responsibility for the maintenance of country and culture.
We believe all our futures depend on stopping radioactive contamination and leaving clean country and strong culture for our children and grandchildren.”
The first meeting was attended by representatives of the following indigenous communities: Arabanna, Martu, Gangalida, Mirrar and Murran. It was also attended by representatives of the following non-indigenous environment organisations: Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth, The Wilderness Society, Arid Lands Environment Centre, WA Anti Uranium Coalition, Greens WA, Gaia Foundation, Nuclear Issues Coalition SA.
This historic meeting released the following statement:
“We the Martu, Mirrar, Arabanna, Murran and Gangalida peoples have met with the environment groups Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth, Arid Lands Environment Centre, Western Australian Anti-Uranium Coalition, Greens WA, Gaia Foundation, Nuclear Issues Coalition SA to talk about our opposition to uranium mining.
We share concerns with local, national, and international impacts of present and proposed uranium mines. We don’t want uranium from our country to be used to hurt other peoples. The Aboriginal experience with uranium mining continues to result in genocide of our community and destruction of our homelands and country
Our futures depend on all our cultures remaining strong. Our cultural values cannot be traded for money. Our country and the law and power and cultural values have been recognised by the High Court.
We call upon all Australians to recognise and affirm these Native title obligations to protect country and culture now and for the future.
Together we have developed a timetable for action to oppose uranium mining and export at all levels and to actively work towards reducing all forms of nuclear threat.”