Muckaty trial to be held in Tennant Creek

Aboriginal Australians are symbolic of triumph over adversity. We represent knowledge and wisdom held in land and country. Because in our hearts we know that we do not own Mother Earth, the Earth owns us.

- Nova Peris

Neda Vanovac AAP The Australian 11 APRIL 2014

The federal government is exploiting the Northern Territory's constitutional weakness by planning to build a nuclear waste facility there against traditional owners' wishes, Senator Nova Peris says.

This week it was decided that a Federal Court trial would sit in Tennant Creek and Darwin in June to take evidence on the proposed dump, which is fiercely opposed by four of the five traditional owner groups at Muckaty, about 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek.

Legal proceedings have been running against the federal government and the Northern Land Council (NLC) since June 2010, with those opposed accusing the NLC of breaching its duties by failing to properly identify the traditional Aboriginal owners of the nominated land, not consulting adequately and not getting proper consent before recommending the site.

"The Northern Territory is not our nation's dumping ground," Senator Peris told a Muckaty dinner in Darwin on Thursday.

"The only reason the dump was proposed to be built here is because we are a Territory and not a state. Exploiting our constitutional weakness is not acceptable."

Ms Peris called for a scientific and rational approach to determining how Australia would deal with its nuclear waste.

Lawyer Elizabeth O'Shea said it was a victory for traditional owners to have part of the trial sit in Tennant Creek.

"We're very concerned about the health and age of a number of our witnesses," she said.

"It's hugely important that the court has taken this step and we're very pleased, and it's caused great comfort for our clients."

The Muckaty decision affects all of Tennant Creek, traditional owner Penny Phillips says, so it's important for the community to be able to observe the legal process.

"All the people there, the old people and the young ones too, they can step up and start talking up," she said.

"Our people fought for country for years and years - you get back country and you have to look after it.

"If you put the dump there, who's going to look after the next generation?"

The trial will begin in Melbourne on June 2.

Senator Nova Peris stands against Muckaty nuclear dump


Senator Nova Peris OAM
Photo: Paul Wiles, CAAMA Radio

From Senator Nova Peris's Maiden speech in Parliament, 13 November 2013

Senator Nova Peris's Maiden speech in full Crikey

" ... Aboriginal Australians are symbolic of triumph over adversity. We represent knowledge and wisdom held in land and country.

Because in our hearts we know that we do not own Mother Earth, the Earth owns us ...

I acknowledge I am a Senator elected to represent all Territorians— and I fully intend to discharge this duty to the best of my ability and I will always put our concerns – the concerns of Territorians first and foremost.

I believe it is my duty and the duty of all members elected to the Parliament to answer questions and deal with issues honestly and openly.

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In 2007, the Northern Land Council nominated Muckaty as a proposed site for the deposit of radioactive materials and identified only one of five ownership groups.
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Beyond Nuclear Initiative spokeswoman Natalie Wasley says the month-long Muckaty Station Nuclear waste dump trial has been listed for June 2014.

One such matter that is a very contentious issue is the location of Australia’s proposed nuclear waste facility. Recently my Larrakia uncle Eric Fejo who is also here today spoke about the previous Government’s decision to locate the proposed nuclear waste facility on Muckaty Station in the Barkly region of the Northern Territory.

He reminded a public forum that during the Apology to the Stolen Generations it was stated that Governments were wrong to make laws and policies that inflict profound grief, suffering and loss on Aboriginal people.

That is what the Muckaty decision is currently doing. It is dividing a community of traditional owners. This policy is inflicting grief.

I strongly urge my fellow parliamentary colleagues to reconsider their support for the current location of this facility.

Of course Australia needs a nuclear waste management facility. But its location must be based on science not politics ...

I acknowledge I am a Senator elected to represent all Territorians— and I fully intend to discharge this duty to the best of my ability and I will always put our concerns – the concerns of Territorians first and foremost.

I believe it is my duty and the duty of all members elected to the Parliament to answer questions and deal with issues honestly and openly.

One such matter that is a very contentious issue is the location of Australia’s proposed nuclear waste facility. Recently my Larrakia uncle Eric Fejo who is also here today spoke about the previous Government’s decision to locate the proposed nuclear waste facility on Muckaty Station in the Barkly region of the Northern Territory.

He reminded a public forum that during the Apology to the Stolen Generations it was stated that Governments were wrong to make laws and policies that inflict profound grief, suffering and loss on Aboriginal people.

That is what the Muckaty decision is currently doing. It is dividing a community of traditional owners. This policy is inflicting grief.

I strongly urge my fellow parliamentary colleagues to reconsider their support for the current location of this facility.

Of course Australia needs a nuclear waste management facility. But its location must be based on science not politics ...