Nuclear poll approved
A ballot on a proposed nuclear storage facility on the Eyre Peninsula will go ahead after Federal Court intervention.
The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation had launched legal action against the District Council of Kimba, attempting to claim that the council had contravened the Racial Discrimination Act by excluding native title holders from the ballot.
The council wanted to gauge community support among ratepayers for the plan to store radioactive waste in their area – one of several sites shortlisted by the Federal Government as possible locations for the facility.
The native title holders had won an injunction to halt the ballot while the legal challenge was being heard.
Justice Richard White has now ruled that there were no contraventions of the Racial Discrimination Act.
SA Greens leader Mark Parnell said he was disappointed with the court's decision.
“The court has determined it is not a breach of the Racial Discrimination Act to deny traditional owners a vote on whether a nuclear waste dump can be built on their land,” he said.
“Clearly in this country we have a very long way to go before we achieve anything like reconciliation.
“The Aboriginal traditional owners have legitimate rights over this country, yet they've been denied a right to vote on whether a nuclear waste dump can be built.
“The Federal Government is obviously keen to get their project up but they only want to ask people who are going to say; ‘Yes’.”
The Barngarla people issued a statement saying they respected the Federal Court’s decision, but would still consider an appeal.
“The Barngarla respects the decision of the Federal Court, as the court has to interpret complicated legislation,” the statement read.
“However, more generally we consider it sad that in the 21st century we are required to take legal action to allow us to have the right to vote on the major decision of the day.
“This case has been about standing up for the right of Aboriginal people to vote on important issues which affect their rights.”