On Saturday November 3, about 1,000 people gathered at Parliament House in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia (SA), for the 'Don't Dump on SA – We Still Say No to Nuclear Waste' rally.
Plans to turn SA into the world's nuclear waste dump were defeated in 2016 but the state is being targeted for a national nuclear waste dump by the conservative federal Coalition government.
Millions have been spent bribing local communities and tens of millions more are promised to the selected site ‒ either in the Flinders Ranges or farming land near Kimba in the Eyre Peninsula.
With the ballot to gauge public opinion on hold due to the court injunction sought by the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC), the rally was held to send a clear message to the Federal Government to abandon the current abysmal site selection process and to the SA government to uphold state legislation that makes radioactive waste facilities illegal.
People travelled from the affected communities of Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula and the Flinders Ranges to join other South Australians concerned about the issue for a vibrant and colourful event of speakers and performers.
Eyre Peninsula resident Anna Taylor asked the crowd: "Why would you put radioactive waste in the middle of our food bowl when only 4% of our country is productive land?"
Adnyamathanha man Dwayne Coulthard said: "This process by the Federal Government is cultural genocide. We have had enough of being ignored. No radioactive waste dump on Adnyamathanha country in the Flinders Ranges. No waste dump in Kimba."
Dr Margie Beavis from the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) dispelled government scare-mongering linking the practice of nuclear medicine to its dump plans. Nuclear medicine has not been hindered by the absence of a national dump nor will it be helped by the establishment of a dump.
President of SA Unions Jamie Newlyn said: "Minister Canavan came out recently and identified Whyalla, Port Pirie and Port Lincoln as areas where they could bring in nuclear waste. Those port communities in that logistics chain were all stunned by that announcement. The mayors of all of those communities are surprised that the announcement was made without any consultation."
"We're talking about this toxic, horrible nuclear waste coming through ports and across supply chains, across our boat links, across our highways and through our ports, that then it has to travel hours and hours by road or rail to a final destination, and those communities don't get a say either? That is a disgrace," Newlyn said.
Jim Green from Friends of the Earth Australia noted that the plan to turn SA into the world's nuclear waste dump is still being promoted even though it lost support from major political parties in 2016. Green said that dumpsters aim to turn the SA into Australia's nuclear waste dump as a stepping stone to turning the state into the world's dump. Two recent reports have promoted the plan to turn SA into the world's nuclear waste dump.
Other speakers included state ALP member for Giles Eddie Hughes and federal Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
Published in Chain Reaction #134, December 2018. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia. www.foe.org.au/chain_reaction