Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management (Repeal and Consequential Amendment) Bill 2008
Northern Land Council Submission 6 November 2008
The NLC is a statutory authority whose primary function under the Land Rights Act and Native Title Act 1993 is to represent the interests and position of traditional Aboriginal owners regarding their country, including by negotiating agreements regarding Aboriginal land with their consent.
In 1983 the then NLC Chairman, the late Gerry Blitner, explained that this function requires the NLC to support traditional owners who favour uranium mining on their country, as well as supporting other traditional owners who object to such mining on other country. The Chairman rejected a national media article which referred to the “largely pro-uranium mining Northern Land Council” as being “unfair and untrue”, and stated (in relation to the then position of traditional owners regarding Koongarra):
“The Council simply supports the wishes of the Aboriginal people it represents in the areas under its jurisdiction. It was their wish that mining go ahead and it was this wish which the Council expressed to the Minister.”
Nothing has changed. It remains the case that the NLC supports the wishes of traditional owners – whether for or against – regarding uranium related development, or other development, on their country. Indeed the NLC is required by law to so perform its statutory functions.
COMMENT BY SONGLINES
In light of the NLC treatment of Warlmanpa people opposed to the radioactive waste site, there is very clearly a need for a Parliamentary review into how this vitally important matter was handled by the NLC.