Given the extraordinary move to prevent cross-examination of the role of the Northern Land Council in the nomination of the highly contested radioactive waste facility site at Muckaty station, there remain unanswered questions about the role of the Northern Land Council in this imbroglio.
The Northern Land Council is a statutory authority established under Commonwealth legislation – the 1976 Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act.
The legislation under which the Northern Land Council plays a key role in the nomination of such sites is Commonwealth legislation.
This is core Commonwealth business.
I believe that, in light of the withdrawal of the nominated site on Warlmanpa land at Muckaty Station, some form of Parliamentary inquiry is now required into how this extraordinary situation came about.
I understand that Counsel for the applicants raised questions, during the Melbourne phase of the case, regarding the role of the NLC Prinicipal Legal Officer. There was also evidence from Warlmanpa people in Tennant Creek which alleged an improper role for the NLC PLO.
The extensive materials which were prepared for the Mark Lane Jangala and others v Commonwealth and NLC Federal court case (VID433/2010), when read in conjunction with the evidence of Warlmanpa people at Tennant Creek in this case, may contain important information relevant to a Parliamentary inquiry.
A Senate inquiry (of some form) may be able to resolve issues relation to the role of the NLC in this matter which have been left unanswered by the resolution of the case in the days before the NLC was to be subjected to the same kind of treatment it imposed on Warlmanpa people.
The NLC may have “dodged” that bullet (as one person has said) but that should not mean that, as a Statutory Authority, it can proceed without Commonwealth oversight and corrective measures put in place if necessary.
Given the withdrawal of the highly contested nominated site for a national radioactive waste facility an investigation by Parliament is now well and truly warranted into the methods employed in this matter by the Northern Land Council.
PS I note that, under the new CEO, the NLC has now shifted from a very high handed attitude in relation to Warlmanpa peoples towards a healing approach – which is most welcome. Aunty Bunny was calling for this some years back, and her call was rejected.
Likewise, the attempted mediation process which preceded the Federal court case was unsuccessful.
In light of all the unacceptable behaviour towards those Warlmanpa people which preceded this newly found attitude from the NLC, it is too little, too late.