Radioactive racism

Check out the website of the Aboriginal-led Australian Nuclear Free Alliance:

Nuclear Racism in Australia (Word file) - detailed collection of info, articles etc. - it is dated, and very uneven in its coverage of different issues, but may still be of some use.

Nuclear racism in South Australia (Word file)

A History of Duress - Uranium mining on Mirarr Land (Ranger, Jabiluka)

For more information, check the 'nuclear racism' section on the links page.

The nuclear war against Australia's Aboriginal people

Jim Green, 14 July 2014, The Ecologist,

The nuclear industry has been responsible for some of the crudest racism in Australia's history. This radioactive racism dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s and it has been evident in more recent debates over nuclear waste.

British nuclear bomb tests in Australia

The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga in South Australia. Permission was not sought from affected Aboriginal groups such as the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Tjarutja and Kokatha. Thousands of people were adversely affected and the impact on Aboriginal people was particularly profound.

Many Aboriginal people suffered from radiological poisoning. There are tragic accounts of families sleeping in the bomb craters. So-called 'Native Patrol Officers' patrolled thousands of square kilometres to try to ensure that Aboriginal people were removed before nuclear tests took place − with little success. The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety was characterised by "ignorance, incompetence and cynicism". Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their homelands and taken to places such as the Yalata mission in South Australia, which was effectively a prison camp.

In the late-1990s, the Australian government carried out a clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear test site. It was done on the cheap and many tonnes of debris contaminated with kilograms of plutonium remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology. As nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the 'clean-up' on ABC radio in August 2002: "What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn't be adopted on white-fellas land."

Barely a decade after the 'clean-up', a survey revealed that 19 of the 85 contaminated debris pits had been subject to erosion or subsidence. The half-life of plutonium-239 is 24,100 years.

Despite the residual contamination, the Australian government off-loaded responsibility for the land onto the Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owners. The government portrayed this land transfer as an act of reconciliation, but the real agenda was spelt out in a 1996 government document which states that the 'clean-up' was "aimed at reducing Commonwealth liability arising from residual contamination."

Radioactive ransom − dumping on the Northern Territory

Since 2006 successive federal governments have been attempting to establish a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, 110 km north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. A toxic trade-off of basic services for a radioactive waste dump has been part of this story from the start. The nomination of the Muckaty site was made with the promise of $12 million compensation package comprising roads, houses and scholarships. Muckaty Traditional Owner Kylie Sambo objected to this radioactive ransom: "I think that is a very, very stupid idea for us to sell our land to get better education and scholarships. As an Australian we should be already entitled to that."

While a small group of Traditional Owners supported the dump, a large majority were opposed and some initiated legal action in the Federal Court challenging the nomination of the Muckaty site by the federal government and the Northern Land Council (NLC).

The Liberal/National Coalition government led by John Howard passed legislation − the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005 − overriding the Aboriginal Heritage Act, undermining the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, and allowing the imposition of a nuclear dump with no Aboriginal consultation or consent. 'Practical reconciliation' was the Howard government's mantra − in practice this meant crude, populist, dog-whistle racism (detailed in John Pilger's latest film, Utopia).

The Australian Labor Party voted against the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act, with Labor parliamentarians describing it as "extreme", "arrogant", "draconian", "sorry", "sordid", and "profoundly shameful". At its 2007 national conference, Labor voted unanimously to repeal the legislation. Yet after the 2007 election, the Labor government passed legislation − the National Radioactive Waste Management Act (NRWMA) − which was almost as draconian and still permitted the imposition of a nuclear dump with no Aboriginal consultation or consent. Hooray for hypocrisy.

In February 2008, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd highlighted the life-story of Lorna Fejo − a member of the stolen generation − in the National Apology in Parliament House. At the same time, the Rudd government was stealing her land for a nuclear dump. Fejo said: "I'm very, very disappointed and downhearted about that [NRWMA legislation]. I'm really sad. The thing is − when are we going to have a fair go? Australia is supposed to be the land of the fair go. When are we going to have fair go? I've been stolen from my mother and now they're stealing my land off me."

Shamefully, the NLC supported legislation disempowering the people it is meant to represent.

Muckaty Traditional Owners were determined to stop the dump and they have been supported by the Beyond Nuclear Initiative; a pro bono legal team led by legal firm Maurice Blackburn; the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance; key trade unions including the Australian Council of Trade Unions; church groups; medical and public health organisations; local councils; the Australian Greens; and environment groups such as Friends of the Earth, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Environment Centre NT.

The Federal Court trial finally began in June 2014. After two weeks of evidence, the NLC gave up and agreed to recommend to the federal government the withdrawal of the nomination of Muckaty for a nuclear dump. The Coalition government led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott accepted the NLC's recommendation. Abbott − who describes himself as the political love-child of John Howardmight have been called to appear at the trial had it continued.

As a result of their surrender, the NLC and the government did not have to face cross-examination in relation to numerous serious accusations raised in the first two weeks of the trial − including claims that the NLC rewrote an anthropologists' report. Kylie Sambo said: "I believe [the NLC] didn't want to go through that humiliation of what they really done. But it's better now that they actually backed off. It's good for us."

Lorna Fejo said: "I feel ecstatic. I feel free because it was a long struggle to protect my land."

Marlene Nungarrayi Bennett said: "Today will go down in the history books of Indigenous Australia on par with the Wave Hill Walk-off, Mabo and Blue Mud Bay. We have shown the Commonwealth and the NLC that we will stand strong for this country. The NLC tried to divide and conquer us but they did not succeed."

Dianne Stokes said: "We will be still talking about our story in the communities up north so no one else has to go through this. We want to let the whole world know that we stood up very strong. We want to thank the supporters around the world that stood behind us and made us feel strong."

Dumping on South Australia

The failed attempt to establish a dump at Muckaty followed the failed attempt to establish a dump in South Australia. In 1998, the Howard government announced its intention to build a nuclear waste dump near Woomera in South Australia. Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA. Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu in the 1950s.

The proposed dump generated such controversy in SA that the federal government hired a public relations company. Correspondence between the company and the government was released under Freedom of Information laws. In one exchange, a government official asked the PR company to remove sand-dunes from a photo to be used in a brochure. The explanation provided by the government official was that: "Dunes are a sensitive area with respect to Aboriginal Heritage". The sand-dunes were removed from the photo, only for the government official to ask if the horizon could be straightened up as well. Terra nullius.

In 2003, the federal government used the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to seize land for the dump. Native Title rights and interests were extinguished with the stroke of a pen. This took place with no forewarning and no consultation with Aboriginal people.

The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to 'get their ears out of their pockets', and after six years the government did just that. In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election − after a Federal Court ruling that the federal government had acted illegally in stripping Traditional Owners of their native title rights, and with the dump issue biting politically in SA − the Howard government decided to cut its losses and abandon the dump plan.

The Kungkas wrote in an open letter: "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."

The Kungkas victory had broader ramifications − it was a set-back for everyone who likes the idea of stripping Aboriginal people of their land and their land rights, and it was a set-back for the nuclear power lobby.

Senator Nick Minchin, one of the Howard government ministers in charge of the failed attempt to impose a nuclear dump in SA, said in 2005: ''My experience with dealing with just low-level radioactive waste from our research reactor tells me it would be impossible to get any sort of consensus in this country around the management of the high-level waste a nuclear [power] reactor would produce.'' Minchin told a Liberal Party council meeting that ''we must avoid being lumbered as the party that favours nuclear energy in this country'' and that ''we would be political mugs if we got sucked into this''.

Nuclear war

Muckaty Traditional Owners have won a significant battle for country and culture, but the problems and patterns of radioactive racism persist. Racism in the uranium mining industry involves ignoring the concerns of Traditional Owners; divide-and-rule tactics; radioactive ransom; 'humbugging' Traditional Owners (exerting persistent, unwanted pressure); providing Traditional Owners with false information; and threats, including legal threats.

One example concerns the 1982 South Australian Roxby Downs Indenture Act, which sets the legal framework for the operation of BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam uranium mine in SA. The Act was amended in 2011 but it retains exemptions from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Traditional Owners were not even consulted. The SA government's spokesperson in Parliament said: "BHP were satisfied with the current arrangements and insisted on the continuation of these arrangements, and the government did not consult further than that."

That disgraceful performance illustrates a broader pattern. Aboriginal land rights and heritage protections are feeble at the best of times. But the legal rights and protections are repeatedly stripped away whenever they get in the way of nuclear or mining interests.

Thus the Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth's Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed. New South Wales legislation exempts uranium mines from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act. The Western Australian government is in the process of gutting the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 at the behest of the mining industry. Native Title rights were extinguished with the stroke of a pen to seize land for a radioactive waste dump in SA, and Aboriginal heritage laws and land rights were repeatedly overridden with the push to dump nuclear waste in the NT.

Most of those laws are supported by the Liberal/National Coalition and Labor. Radioactive racism in Australia enjoys bipartisan support.

Muckaty Traditional Owners have won a famous victory, but the nuclear war against Aboriginal people continues − and it will continue to be resisted, with the Aboriginal-led Australian Nuclear Free Alliance playing a leading role.

Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, Australia, and editor of Nuclear Monitor.

Radioactive racism in the Wild West – WA takes aim at remote communities

Mia Pepper

You'd be forgiven for thinking Western Australia was the Wild West. The announcement from the WA government that it planned to close 150 Aboriginal remote communities came hot on the heels of plans to gut the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

The changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act have two main objectives: one is to make it easier for Aboriginal Heritage Sites on the Aboriginal Heritage Register to be de-listed; the other is to make it harder to get Aboriginal Heritage Sites listed in the first place. One of the key factors in a site getting and staying on the register is proving an ongoing connection to the site – a logistical factor made much harder if people are being forcibly removed from remote communities.

Pastor Geoffrey Stokes, a Wongutha man from Kalgoorlie, was out hunting one day near Mt Margaret when he encountered a mining company, Darlex, literally about to dig into a cave – an Aboriginal Heritage Site. This particular site had been lodged with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs by the Goldfields Land and Sea Council 23 years earlier – but had not been officially registered. The company was about to destroy the site without having gained permission or consulting with the Aboriginal custodians and had no requirements to do so because the site did not appear on the register. On inquiries made to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) about this site, it was revealed that something like 10,000 sites have been lodged but never registered.

This is how the system works. Traditional Owners can lodge a site with the DAA and the Department may or may not register it – depending how busy they are over a period of about two decades. Once it is registered a mining company can then apply to destroy it anyway, but rest assured that if it's registered you'll be consulted about the sites impending doom. However if you don't visit the site regularly, under a changed Aboriginal Heritage Act, it's likely to be deregistered aka no one is coming to talk to you before they destroy your heritage.

I'm reminded of being at a mining conference in WA where the then Minister for Mines and Petroleum gave a keynote presentation. He ended by inviting everyone to stay around for a raffle – "the prize is a free Aboriginal Heritage clearance." The miners roared with laughter. The Minister re-used the joke when calling the raffle – allowing us to record this sick joke about the religion and culture of Australia's first people. When played back to him in Parliament, he scoffed and said it was taken out of context.

Mulga Rocks

Just around the corner from Mt Margaret is Mulga Rocks – the site of the latest uranium mine proposal by a company, which has recently changed its name to Vimy Resources. Vimy is like an all-star cast with a former Fortescue Metals Group executive as Director, a former Liberal MP on the Board of Directors and generously funded by Twiggy Forrest. Vimy recently submitted a scoping study for Mulga Rocks, which is near Kalgoorlie and adjacent to the Queen Victoria Springs − an A Class Nature Reserve.

In submissions made to the scoping study, the DAA provided comment in response to the proposal saying the company should minimise impact to Aboriginal Heritage, should consult with the DAA and the Central Desert Native Title Service, and suggesting that some sites may "still be under the protection" of the not-yet-gutted Aboriginal Heritage Act. The company responded: "No Native Title Groups claim the areas and no traditional owners undertake any traditional activities in the area."

That comment was based on a 1982 'study' by an American anthropologist – using a dubious methodology. The anthropologist just asked around in the nearest town (150 kms away), a process that identified at least one family who use to go out, and no further inquiries were made about that family. The family survived and live in the area but are yet to be consulted. Neighbouring communities and interested communities are yet to be consulted and the company refuses to consult, stating the project won't impact anyone so there's no need.

The closest community to the proposed Mulga Rocks mine is called Coonana and has been on the government's hit list of communities to close down for many years. Slowly but surely the WA government has cut all funding to the community, which is now virtually a ghost town. Coonana is a refugee community − people that have been moved from community to community over generations. Known as the Spinifex people, they came across the border from South Australia following the nuclear weapons tests at Maralinga and Emu Field in the 1950s. The government used to kick Aboriginal people hitching a free ride west off the train but then had a bright idea: give Aboriginal people a free ride west and get them off the atomic bomb testing sites permanently. The dislocation that began during the atomic bomb tests is very much alive today.

The starving of services at Coonana should sound alarm bells about what this government is capable of doing. At Oombulgurri in the Kimberley, the strategy was to demolish houses: no resettlement, no alternative housing, nothing. As the country tries to heal from centuries of displacement and bad government policy, this government is creating another generation of displaced people.

The changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act are due to be debated in the WA Parliament in August/September 2015. The plans to shut 150 remote Aboriginal communities are much more secretive − the Premier Colin Barnett has promised consultation but refused an invitation from the Kimberley Land Council to join a joint Land Councils meeting about the closures in early 2015. Proposals to use royalties' money from the mining industry to meet the funding shortfall have been squashed by the Premier. As the mining boom crashes and the government's focus is on supporting industry rather than communities, we are expecting further attacks on communities and culture to make it easier and cheaper for mining companies to get projects off the ground.


In addition to proposed changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act, the WA government has released a draft Heritage Bill 2015, covering the protection of all WA heritage sites except Aboriginal sites of significance.

Prof. Ben Smith from the University of WA, and a spokesperson for the Australian Archaeological Association (AAA), told the ABC on August 13 that the discrepancies and contradictions between the two proposed sets of changes were "untenable". He noted that in the new Heritage Bill, the decision to add or remove a site will remain with the minister for heritage, while in revisions to the Aboriginal Heritage Act the decision will be left with a senior public servant. "We have watering down of the Aboriginal Heritage Act," Smith said, "whereas we have continued strength of non-Aboriginal preservation."

The AAA also raised concerns about a "tiered approach" to fines for those who damage sites. Smith said under proposed changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act, an individual found to be damaging an Aboriginal site on their first offence will face a fine of up to $100,000. If a corporate body is found to have damaged a registered Aboriginal site in the first instance, they will be fined up to $500,000, with the maximum penalty of $1 million only levelled for repeated offenders. In contrast, the Heritage Act doesn't make provision for first and second fines − if an individual or a body corporate damages a piece of non-Indigenous state heritage, they instantly face a $1 million fine.

Smith said: "Why would we want a tiered structure? If you damage any piece of Aboriginal heritage, you are committing a crime of great seriousness, just as if you damage any piece of Australia heritage. Why is one subject to a lesser process? It's extraordinary in an international context. How will these be perceived by UNESCO?"

Phil Czerwinski, chair of the WA Association of Consulting Archaeologists, said all heritage sites should be treated equally.  "We seem to want to protect white fella heritage better than we want to protect black fella heritage," he said.

A petition against changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act is posted at:

Mia Pepper is the Nuclear Free Campaigner at Conservation Council WA, and Deputy Chair of the Mineral Policy Institute.

Published in Chain Reaction, national magazine of Friends of the Earth, Australia, edition #124, September 2015,



Antony Hegarty supporting Martu Traditional Owners

Antony Hegarty from Antony and the Johnsons recently visited Australia to support Martu Traditional Owners in their struggle to stop the proposed Kintyre uranium mine in the WA Pilbara from proceeding. Hegarty joined Martu artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney for the opening display of 'Kalyu' (water), a painting by nine Martu artists to depict the risks the proposed mine poses to the region's precious ground and surface water.

"The painting is our home, our country. It is part of us. Our country, our homelands are under serious threat from uranium mining," said artist Ngalangka Nola Taylor. "We need to tell people that those paintings only exist because of our obligation to our country, it is not a choice to look after it, the country is us − we just have to do it".

Hegarty said: "My current trip to Australia has been very much motivated by my desire to help the Martu campaign against this uranium mine plan. I was honoured to be welcomed by the Parnngurr community and artists and I want to lend my voice and support to help protect country that is very important to my friends there."

Martu resettled Parnngurr community in the 1980s as a protest camp against uranium exploration. The community remains opposed to uranium mining in the area.

"It will remain like that, with no mine. That poison is no good," said artist Karnu Nancy Taylor. "You can't reverse what the old people have said. We're going to stop it!"


Warren Mundine's nuclear allegiances

Jim Green, Online Opinion, 11 April 2012,

Warren Mundine, a member and former National President of the ALP, and co-convener of the Australian Uranium Association's Indigenous Dialogue Group, has been promoting the nuclear industry recently. Unfortunately he turns a blind eye to the industry's crude racism, a problem that ought to be core business for the Indigenous Dialogue Group.

Mundine could have mentioned the legacy of uranium mining in the Wiluna region of WA; to pick one of many examples. Uranium exploration in the region in the 1980s left a legacy of pollution and contamination. Greatly elevated radiation levels have been recorded despite the area being 'cleaned' a decade ago. Even after the 'clean up', the site was left with rusting drums containing uranium ore. A sign reading "Danger − low level radiation ore exposed" was found lying face down in bushes.

In August 2000, coordinator of the Wiluna-based Marruwayura Aboriginal Corporation Steve Syred said that until 1993, 100−150 people were living three kilometres from the spot where high radiation levels were recorded. Syred told the Kalgoorlie Miner that the Aboriginal community had unsuccessfully resisted uranium exploration in the area in the early 1980s. Since then many people had lived in the area while the Ngangganawili Aboriginal Corporation was based near the contaminated site. Elders still hunted in the area.

Another example ignored by Mundine was in late March when the NSW government passed legislation that excluded uranium from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 thus stripping Aboriginal Land Councils of any say in uranium mining.

Yet another example ignored by Mundine was the 2011 amendments to the S.A. Roxby Downs Indenture Act 1982. This is the legislation that governs operations at the Olympic Dam uranium and copper mine and retains exemptions from the S.A. Aboriginal Heritage Act. Traditional Owners were not even consulted in the amendments or exemptions. The S.A. government's spokesperson in Parliament said: "BHP were satisfied with the current arrangements and insisted on the continuation of these arrangements, and the government did not consult further than that."

That disgraceful performance illustrates a broader pattern. Aboriginal land rights and heritage protections are feeble at the best of times. But the legal rights and protections are repeatedly stripped away whenever they get in the way of nuclear or mining interests. The Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the S.A. Aboriginal Heritage Act and any uranium mines in NSW are to be exempt from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act. Likewise, sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth's Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the N.T. from the Act.

Mundine claims that Australia has "a legal framework to negotiate equitably with the traditional owners on whose land many uranium deposits are found". That claim is disingenuous.

Native Title rights were extinguished with the stroke of a pen by the Howard government to seize land for a radioactive waste dump in South Australia. Aboriginal heritage laws and Aboriginal land rights are being trashed with the current push to dump in the Northern Territory. Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson's National Radioactive Waste Management Act overrides the Aboriginal Heritage Act, sidesteps the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, and allows for the imposition of a dump on Aboriginal land even in the absence of any consultation with or consent from Traditional Owners.

David Ross, Director of the Central Land Council, noted in a March 14 media release: "This legislation is shameful, it subverts processes under the [Aboriginal] Land Rights Act and is clearly designed to reach the outcome of a dump being located on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory, whether that's the best place for it or not. This legislation preserves the Muckaty nomination without acknowledging the dissent and conflict amongst the broader traditional owner group about the process and the so-called agreement. The passage of this legislation will further inflame the tensions and divisions amongst families in Tennant Creek, and cause great stress to many people in that region."

A small number of Traditional Owners support the N.T. dump proposal. However most are opposed and the Northern Territory Government supports that opposition, key trade unions including the Australia Council of Trade Unions, church groups, medical and health organisations, and environmental groups. If push comes to shove, there will be a blockade at the site to prevent construction of the dump.

A pro bono legal team is assisting Traditional Owners with their legal challenge against the nomination of the Muckaty site. At a Federal Court hearing on March 27, a Commonwealth lawyer argued that the government's legislation allows the nomination of a dump site to stand even if the evidence regarding traditional ownership is false.

These patterns are evident in other countries. North American Indigenous activist Winona LaDuke from the Anishinabe Nation told the Indigenous World Uranium Summit in 2006: "The greatest minds in the nuclear establishment have been searching for an answer to the radioactive waste problem for fifty years, and they've finally got one: haul it down a dirt road and dump it on an Indian reservation".

Here in Australia the situation is scarcely any better than it was in the 1950s when the British were exploding nuclear bombs on Aboriginal land. Which brings us to another of Mundine's blind spots. He could have mentioned the latest 'clean up' of the Maralinga nuclear test site, which was done on the cheap. Nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the 'clean-up': "What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn't be adopted on white-fellas land."

Mundine's claim to support Aboriginal empowerment is contradicted by his consistent failure to speak out when mining and nuclear interests and governments that support those interests disempower Aboriginal people.


Environmentalists respond to Warren Mundine's attacks

1 Aug 2014, Jim Green, Indymedia

Tony Abbott says he wants to make a ''new engagement'' with indigenous people. But there's nothing new about finding opportunists like Warren Mundine to provide political cover for a racist government. That tactic is tried and tested. Only the names change.


Mine deal allegations against Warren Mundine and Aboriginal corporation

July 11, 2014, Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie

A company that was part-owned and directed by the federal government's chief indigenous adviser, Warren Mundine, helped broker a highly questionable deal that gave a mining company access to an Aboriginal sacred site in outback Western Australia.

The sorry tale of Lake Disappointment, the missing mining millions and Warren Mundine

July 10, 2014, Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie

Legal advice questioned controversial mining deal

July 15, 2014, Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie

Questions over Warren Mundine’s involvement in mining deal

12 Jul 2014, Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie

First principles owed to our first people

July 14, 2014, The Age - Editorial

Cash, missing cars fail to spark criminal probe in to indigenous body

July 12, 2014, Richard Baker, Nick McKenzie

Responses to the above Fairfax articles:


Jeff McMullen: Neoliberalism, market fundamentalism and the colonization of Aboriginal policy

by Colin Penter, March 14th, 2014

The Australian journalist, writer and social justice campaigner Jeff McMullen has written two cogent and articulate critiques of the colonization of Aboriginal policy making in this country by the cancer of neo-liberalism (or what others call market fundamentalism).

One of Jeff McMullen’s articles The New Land Grab is available on line here (in The New Internationalist blog). The second piece is a book chapter titled Dispossession- Neoliberalism and the Struggle for Aboriginal Land and Rights in the 21st Century which appears in a new book In Black and White: Australians at the Cross Roads (edited by Rhonda Craven, Anthony Dillon & Nigel Parbury). This article is available here on Jeff McMullen’s own website

McMullen is scathing about the role played by influential Aboriginal leaders, such as Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton and Warren Mundine who have become influential advocates and brokers for neoliberal policies and have gathered adherents and supporters in both political parties and corporate Australia.


I don’t represent anyone but Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, says Warren Mundine

Warren Mundine has confirmed what many First Nations leaders and community members suspected all along – he doesn't represent anyone but the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. The Chairman of the Indigenous ...

25 June 2014


Elders reject Warren Mundine’s attack on Green groups

Warren Mundine is a man driven by ideology whose Lore and Culture is dollar signs, according to two prominent Elders who were responding to Mr Mundine's scathing attack on Green groups. In an opinion ...

09 July 2014


Who says Mundine can represent us?

Leaders react to Tony Abbott's advisory council plans Reaction to Warren Mundine's Garma address have been mixed with one leader declaring Mr Mundine was "on another planet" and "should not be up there ...

22 August 2013


Mundine my “kindred spirit” to fix plight of First Peoples, says Abbott

Coalition leader, Tony Abbott believes he and Warren Mundine are kindred spirits seeking to improve the plight of Aboriginal people. Mr Abbott said there was a need to convert all the good thinking from ...

15 August 2013


Green groups hit back at Mundine

8 July 2014


Response to Warren Mundine, letter published in the Australian Financial Review

April 2012                                                                                            

It’s time to stop radioactive racism

Globally the nuclear industry is in decline and has been for a long time. The price of uranium was briefly inflated along with false dreams of a nuclear renaissance, in reality the industry is waning. The Fukushima disaster reminded both communities and financial institutions that nuclear power is far too risky for life on this planet.

In Western Australia we have a very aggressive uranium exploration program, sponsored by the State Government, yet deeply opposed by the people. We have a strong history of resistance against uranium mines and a proud history of stopping these mines. In the 1970′s my elders fought against uranium mining at Yeelirrie. In the 1980′s people from the Western Desert marched down St Georges Terrace in the thousands against uranium mining on their lands and we are proud to say we’ve never had a uranium mine in WA. We are going to keep it that way.

Warren Mundine wrote to the Financial Review promoting the nuclear industry. He wants uranium mining, he wants nuclear power and he wants the international community to dispose of its nuclear waste here, all on our lands. Mr Mundine does not speak for us here in Western Australia and has no right to talk about what should or should not happen on our country.

Some of the communities who are being barraged by these wanna be miners have generations of knowledge about uranium ‘poison’. We know better than most, the dangers of uranium. We also have generations worth of experience in dealing with mining companies , of witnessing their broken promises and the deep enduring failures of government to protect our country and people.

We don’t need someone from the East Coast, from Canberra or Canada to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do. Uranium stays in the ground. We have a saying, “Wanti* Uranium, leave it in the ground!” (*leave it)

The nuclear industry across Australia takes it’s toll on Aboriginal communities; from the nuclear weapons testing in Maralinga and Monte Bello island, from the trial mines in Wiluna, Yeelirrie and Manyingee in WA, to the abandoned mines in the NT & Queensland at Rum Jungle and Alligator River and Mary Kathleen, the existing mines at Ranger and Beverley and Roxby Downs in SA. The defeated proposed waste dump in South Australia now proposed for Muckaty Station in the NT. This industry preys on remote Aboriginal communities keeping everything out of sight and out of mind.

Across Australia there has never been a uranium mine that has not leaked radioactive mine waste into the environment, this industry has been tried and consistently failed.

The risk to our lands, to life itself far outweigh the measly rewards, the few jobs on offer, the State government royalties. It is not worth the long term damage to our country and to our water.

These mines will only last for 10 years or 20 years but as custodians we have thousands of years of waste. Long after this State government is a memory, long after the mining companies have gone broke we will be living with the radioactive legacy of their greedy short term ambitions. I and the people of West Australian Nuclear Free Alliance will not sell future generations short.

Kado Muir is the Chairperson of the West Australia Nuclear Free Alliance, he is a Ngalia man and a custodian for Yeelirrie – one of the uranium deposits under exploration by BHP Billiton.