Anthropologists called in for nuke land ownership dispute in court
by: Pia Akerman
From: The Australian
March 28, 2012 12:00AM
THE federal government will use evidence from anthropologists to fight claims that traditional owners of a site at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory have not been consulted about a planned nuclear waste dump.
Lawyers for the commonwealth told a Federal Court hearing yesterday that Mark Lane Jangala, a Ngapa man who opposes the proposed dump site, was not a traditional owner of the land.
Stephen Donaghue SC said anthropological material supported the government’s case against Mr Lane Jangala and his allies within the Ngapa group.
“They may have traditional ownership rights in relation to other parts of Muckaty Station, but not in relation to the nominated area,” he said.
Dr Donaghue said it would be an “inefficient use of court resources” to embark on a trial to identify the real traditional owners of the land, and the Northern Land Council had been entrusted to make that decision.
The council nominated the site on Muckaty Station, 110km north of Tennant Creek in 2007, supported by one of five clan groups making up the Muckaty Land Trust. The nomination was approved by the Howard government but has not yet been declared under the Labor government.
Resources Minister Martin Ferguson has previously said he will not declare the site until the legal proceedings finish.
Dr Donaghue yesterday told judge Tony North the case should be stopped on the basis of four questions of law.