Muckaty – joint and overlapping traditional ownership

Aboriginal group challenges planned nuclear dump in court
June 4, 2010

ABORIGINAL traditional owners have initiated a Federal Court legal challenge to plans by the federal government to build Australia’s first national radioactive waste dump near Tennant Creek, in the Northern Territory.

Mark Lane Jangala, a senior elder of the Ngapa clan, says he and many other senior elders were not consulted about the nomination of their land.

The offer of the land in return for one clan receiving $12 million in cash and other benefits has bitterly divided Aboriginal family groups in the Tennant Creek region.

The government and the land council have refused to make public an anthropological report the land council says shows that one clan owns the nominated 1.2 square kilometre site 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek.

However, the court action will centre on a finding by the Aboriginal Land Commissioner in 2001 that five owner groups have joint and overlapping traditional ownership of the land.

The Maurice Blackburn senior associate Martin Hyde said most traditional owners were not given the opportunity to make an informed decision.

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