All NT Federal election candidates to be quizzed on radioactive waste position

Media release
Beyond Nuclear Initiative

March 12, 2013

Another year stronger: Opposition to Muckaty radioactive dump plan grows.

On the first anniversary of Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson’s National Radioactive Waste Management Act (passed March 13, 2012), Traditional Owners and supporters have vowed to step up their campaign against any moves for a radioactive waste dump at Muckaty, near Tennant Creek.

Traditional Owner Penny Phillips recalls the deep sadness in the community when the law passed last year. “We had very hurt feelings when the legislation passed the Senate. My old aunty Bunny Nabarula cried her heart out.”

“People are really upset that we still haven’t been consulted even a year later, but we are not going to stop fighting- we will still keep telling people that this country is very important to us. We also want people to remember all of the transport accidents that have happened on the road and rail near Muckaty.”

Beyond Nuclear Initiative coordinator Natalie Wasley stated, “The federal dump laws give Minister Ferguson absolute discretion on key aspects of radioactive waste management. His secretive approach is a far cry from the open and transparent process promised earlier by the ALP and light years away from international best practice”.

“It is not acceptable to ‘consult’ the community after a site is chosen as Mr Ferguson intends. International experience shows that the early and genuine inclusion of all stakeholders is needed if radioactive waste management plans are to be successful. Targeting remote communities because a government considers them politically vulnerable is an international embarrassment and a domestic disgrace. And it will not work.”

Muckaty is the only potential NT dump site left under active consideration but the community is not being left to fight the proposal themselves. A diverse range of groups, including the Public Health Association of Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and faith, Indigenous and environment groups are united in a call for a halt to the Muckaty proposal and an independent commission into Australia’s radioactive waste management options.

“The groups opposing the Muckaty plan will be working to make our message loud and clear in this federal election year. All NT candidates, Minister Ferguson and Shadow Resources Minister Ian MacFarlane will be asked to make their position on this important national issue explicit and public, Ms Wasley added.

Ms Phillips concluded “We want politicians to come here to Muckaty – we will show them the country where they want to put the waste dump because they have not even been there. We felt the earthquake yesterday, we know that this area is not a good place for a nuclear waste dump.”