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Thousands rally against SA nuclear dump proposals

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Nick G

On Saturday October 15, four thousand people gathered at Parliament House, Adelaide, to oppose proposals for two nuclear waste dumps in SA.

One is a low level waste dump proposed by the federal government for Wallaberdina in the Flinders Ranges.  The other is for a high level waste dump for overseas nuclear waste, recommended by a SA Royal Commission.

Nuclear dumps currently illegal in SA

Under current state legislation introduced by the Olsen Liberals and strengthened by Rann Labor, it is illegal to operate a nuclear waste facility in SA or to import or transport nuclear waste in SA.

This legislation came about largely by the actions of the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta (the Anangu women of Coober Pedy) who led a campaign against a 1998 Howard Government proposal for a nuclear waste dump in SA.

In 2004, following Howard’s conceding defeat on the issue, three of those women, Eileen Kampakuta Brown, Ivy Makinti Stewart and Angelina Wonga issued a statement that began: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up…money doesn’t win.”

Weatherill betrays historic Aboriginal-led victory

In mid-2012, Eileen Kampakuta Brown, and another Kungka Tjuta activist, Eileen Unkari Crombie, died within weeks of each other at Coober Pedy.

If there had been the slightest shred of human decency in the cesspit of parliamentary politics, the inspiring legacy of these women would have seen statues of them erected on the steps of the State Parliament as a permanent reminder of the resilience, optimism and integrity of those who fight for the rights of the people.

Instead SA Premier Jay Weatherill effectively spat on their graves by amending the legislation they had won to enable the creation of a Royal Commission into SA’s nuclear future.

Section 13 of the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000 had previously read:

…no public money may be appropriated, expended or advanced to any person for the purpose of encouraging or financing any activity associated with the construction or operation of a nuclear waste storage facility in this State.

Weatherill’s amendment made this part (1) of the section, followed by a new part (2), which read:

Subsection (1) does not prohibit the appropriation, expenditure or advancement to a person of public money for the purpose of encouraging or financing community consultation or debate on the desirability or otherwise of constructing or operating a nuclear waste storage facility in this State.

The effect of this change to the Act was to remove from Weatherill the political stigma of advocating an illegal action, namely the creation of a nuclear dump in SA, and giving that responsibility to a so-called “independent” Royal Commission to conduct under the guise of “community consultation” and “debate”.

Such is the integrity, the respect for Aboriginal self-determination, for the outcomes of community struggles to prevent SA becoming a nuclear waste dump of a “left” social democrat!

Such is the pea and thimble trickery and chicanery of a “left” social democrat!

Such is the absolute bankruptcy of political principle embedded in a “left” social democrat!

Such is the “softly, softly catchee dumpee” approach of the quietly-spoken, mild-mannered “left” social democrat Jay Weatherill!

SA Unions calls for protest at ALP state convention

The 4000 people who gathered to dump the dump have seen through Weatherill.

Led by Aboriginal community leaders including Anangu woman Karina Lester (left, daughter of Yami Lester who was blinded as a child by fallout from one of the Maralinga A-bomb tests) and Adnyamathanha  elder Regina McKenzie, speaker after speaker at the rally denounced the waste dump plans. 

One of the few non-Indigenous speakers, SA Unions’ state secretary Joe Szakacs, noted that the no dump campaign was occurring in the 50th anniversary year of the great Gurindji walk-off from Lord Vestey’s Wave Hill cattle station in the NT.  He paid tribute to the unions which had supported and sustained the walk-off and pledged that the union movement would always stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

He called on rally participants to make sure they also rallied outside the ALP state convention on October 29 to support ALP members inside the convention who would be speaking against the nuclear waste dumps.

Four thousand people is just a start.

From little things big things grow!

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