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Fight against nuclear waste not over yet

  • 10 February 2020


On January 31st, just three days before he offered his resignation as Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator Matthew Canavan made his long awaited, if predictable, announcement: Australia’s long lived intermediate radioactive waste will be stored, and the low level waste deposited, at the Napandee site in the Kimba region of South Australia.

Canavan’s decision was a natural follow on from his December 13th announcement that with just 47 per cent of voters in favour, the Flinders Ranges site of Wallerberdina was no longer under consideration. As such, the Kimba decision was predictable. However it still came as a jolt to most of the farmers and others rightly fearful of the plan to host nuclear waste which even the government now admits will remain toxic for an unimaginable 10,000 years.

The early November Kimba vote of 61.17 per cent in favour on the proposed project followed the four year divisive government campaign. On December 5th, Kimba region farmer Terry Schmucker explained the vote’s long history: ‘We have already been through this once already where everyone was on equal terms. The minister at the time had already ruled there was not broad community support. However the landholder that nominated his land the first time then renominated a different part of his farm and his friends and family within the Kimba council moved for a vote of only the council area. The community funding has now been restricted to the Kimba council area only because of this — people are looking at the large inducement, not the radioactive waste issues.’ He concluded that ‘if the 50 km radius was applied at Kimba like it is at Hawker the vote would fail at these waste sites.’

After their 20 year struggle to successfully obtain their native title rights, which included the Kimba region, the Barngarla people were astonished at their own exclusion from the vote. As Jeanne Miller movingly explains in Kim Mavromatis’ four minute film, as Aboriginal people with no voting power they are put back 50 years, ‘again classed as flora and fauna.’ The Barngarla case against the Kimba Council will return to the Federal Court on February 21st.

After the Kimba region announcement, most predictable was the delight of the man due to profit the most from the arrangement in monetary terms. Jeff Baldock of Napandee is to be paid four fold for the 160 hectares of his land that the federal