250 Traditional indigenous owners and anti-nuclear activists protested in Tennant Creek on Saturday April 3 in opposition to the proposed Muckaty Station Nuclear Waste Dump. Anger was particularly directed at Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, and to the Northern Land Council.
Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney told AAP "There's no way the NLC or Minister Ferguson can say with any conviction or confidence that there is consent for this plan," he said "These people have profound connections with this land and the government's position is becoming increasingly untenable."
The 5 family groups of the Traditional Owners are divided, with many being opposed to the waste dump at Muckaty. They say the Northern Land Council has overlooked them.
Muckaty Station traditional owner Amy Lauder, supported by the Northern Land Council, welcomed the proposed Nuclear Waste Dump but falsely stated that all traditional owners were united in their intention to nominate their land at Muckaty Station for consideration. "The Ngapa traditional owners want to see this happen," she said. "We are united in our wishes and want to see an economic future for our families." she stated in a March 3 Northern Lands Council press release (PDF).
However Muckaty Traditional Owner Pamela Brown, from the Milwayi group, issued the following statement in response : "If the NLC and Amy Lauder are in Canberra, I want them to tell the government people where they really stand and tell them the whole truth, that Muckaty doesn't belong to them. Tell the government there that they changed all the document stories round, they should know that culture and dreamings never change, they stay the same." she said.
"Elders are telling us that Amy Lauder and her family don't have any dreaming on Muckaty. Governments should listen to all of the Elders who know all dreaming stories on Muckaty. NLC should be consulting with all the dreaming groups that got that Land Claim." said Pamela Brown.
Beryl Brown, Milwayi Traditional Owner from Muckaty accused the Northern Land Council of only focusing on one family group. "Who is the NLC working for? Are they working for the 5 family groups? Are they representing all of the Traditional Owners ? They are not supporting the people who are saying no. They are meant to work for everyone."
Central Land Council (CLC) director David Ross, who has received representations from traditional owners even though Muckaty is outside the CLC area of responsibility, said the Muckaty site should not be imposed on the community. " I can only urge the Minister and the NLC to now deal with the process under section 19 of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, which will ensure that a proper process is followed," Mr Ross said. "An outcome forced on a divided group will entrench divisions and lead to on-going disputation and social problems. This is certainly not best practice for site selection of radioactive facilities."
In Senate Committee hearings the Government has admitted that only 6 jobs will be created by the Nuclear Waste dump on Muckaty Station, and none of them are likely to go to traditional people.
The Senate Inquiry has decided it will not take evidence in Tennant Creek, despite the town being home to many Muckaty Traditional Owners and concerned community members. "Traditional Owners, Tennant residents and Barkly region pastoralists are extremely disappointed that the Senate Committee will not sit in Tennant Creek. The distance and cost to travel to Darwin makes it impossible for the majority of concerned people to attend the hearing," said Natalie Wasley, Beyond Nuclear Initiative coordinator in Alice Springs.
A public appeal is being launched to raise funds for Muckaty Traditional Owners to attend a Senate Inquiry hearing in Darwin on April 12.
On February 24 the Beyond Nuclear Initiative (BNI) in the Northern Territory condemned the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill introduced by Minister Martin Ferguson as draconian and in breach of Labor's election commitments.
On Thursday, March 29, Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson was forced to depart via a workers' entrance Crocodylus Park in Darwin to avoid seven protestors at the front entrance voicing their opposition to a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty Station.