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The normalisation of destruction in SA nuclear plan



On Friday 26 August in Adelaide, Yankunyjatjara Elder Edie Nyimpula King was awarded the 2016 Perpetual Trophy of the prestigious Gladys Elphick Awards for her decades of work 'in standing up for culture, country and community'.

Edie Nyimpula KingOn Saturday 3 September, in Port Augusta, Edie (pictured) was keeping up the struggle, singing again the Seven Sisters inma, strong in its demands for a clean country and protection for the future generations.

Unable then to stop the flow of tears, she paid tribute to her former companions' heroic struggles. 'Ivy Makinti Stewart, Kampakuta — Eileen Brown, Eileen Unkari Crombie' amid all the other heroes — the brave fighters for country and the future generations against the nuclear industry and its proponents in South Australia; women who had immortalised that inma in the same obedient re-enactment of the Seven Sisters and their demands to care for country.

Its cry: Irati Wanti — leave the poison! Have nothing to do with it! No radioactive waste dump in our country!

But why is such responsibility for country and the health of its people — forever — so hard? And ongoing! Why is the destruction of country — its lands and waters and huge risks to the future generations — forever allowed to be normalised?

Indeed how to explain the current normalisation of the new threat — of importing high-level radioactive waste across the Southern Hemisphere oceans and its dumping onto the lands of South Australia. And this with the seemingly full permission of a government and perhaps a peoples, both of whom will be long gone in the 'hundreds of thousands of years' which the nuclear royal commission itself admits such material must be isolated.

Poll results during the third week of September revealed that 50 per cent of those polled agree to welcome such waste with 35 per cent against and 15 per cent undecided.

Of course the full throttled media campaign must take credit for much of this.


"Perhaps the barrage of pro-nuclear forces/strategies explains why there's no explosion of outrage either in South Australian society or in church and faith groups against this extraordinarily destructive scheme."


Recently the Adelaide Advertiser had a front page story entitled 'Nuke fear for kids'. The heading would surely lead one to believe that (surprisingly) SA's only daily paper had a front page article about the substantial risk that the proposed importation of international high-level radioactive waste will be for the present and future generations of South Australian children.

But no — further reading made clear that the 'fear' was the effect 'noisy protestors' would have on the 150 high school children who had been chosen to meet with the former nuclear Royal Commissioner Scarce. Hence the venue was to be secret.

There seems little expense spared either at the importation of experts like Geraldine Thomas, who spoke at the Hawke Institute at the University of South Australia on 16 September on the risks of radiation. Were many of her audience relieved to hear that, well, no, there is actually little risk? In that jolly English way reminiscent of one of the English experts in the government 'consultations' also being conducted across the state, she explained that the problems of the people of Fukushima were mainly psychological.

Proposed is a forever risk-laden project of ships travelling to a yet unnamed Australian port every 24 to 30 days with the world's highest level nuclear waste. Then dumping/storing the casks perhaps five or ten kilometres away for some decades until funds are available to build a 'safe' depository — something that has not yet been possible anywhere in the world including countries with decades of nuclear expertise.

Perhaps the barrage of pro-nuclear forces/strategies explains why there's no explosion of outrage either in South Australian society or in church and faith groups against this extraordinarily destructive scheme. Much less in Australian society in general.

Or perhaps theologian Brendan Lovettt names it.

'If there is a typically bourgeois virtue it must be the cult of moderation. The extreme is to be abhorred; it is a matter of unseemly exaggeration. We cannot bear too much reality. the world is to be thought of as a place where comfortable mediocrity rules, where everything is under control and there is nothing to be horrified about, either in ourselves or in the world. This is our necessary lie. What we deny under our veneer of a smoothly reasonable world are the real dimensions of life and history. Understandably we project a God who will be compatible with this comforting view of life and history.'

What we are resisting, he concludes, is our own responsibility for the world.

On 3 September, the 25 year old Kumana Karen Crombie, now herself mother of two, danced with veterans, Betty Ngangala Muffler and Dianne Pinku Edwards, to Edie Nyimpula's singing, to herald the new generation taking up responsibility for country and its peoples.

What will it take for the rest of us to take up our own responsibility.


Michele MadiganMichele Madigan is a Sister of St Joseph who has spent the past 38 years working with Aboriginal people in remote areas of South Australia and in Adelaide. Her work has included advocacy and support for senior Aboriginal women of Coober Pedy in their campaign against the proposed national radioactive dump.

Main photo by Cat Beation. Published with the permission of Edie Nyimpula King

Topic tags: Michele Madigan, South Australia, nuclear waste, Edie Nyimpula King



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Existing comments

Great article, thanks Michele! Keep up the struggle. We should all be saying Irati Wanti.

tony | 26 September 2016  

Thank you for your this powerful article; will redouble my efforts with church group.

Pamela | 26 September 2016  

Another excellent and timely article Michele - thank you for keeping us up to date on this crucially important issue. May I suggest to readers of this article, no matter what their views on this matter, that you tune into Q & A this evening, as the very issue of the proposed nuclear waste dump on Adnyamathanha country in South Australia's Flinders Ranges is one of the topics for discussion in this week's Adelaide-based Q & A? Again, a big 'thank you' to you Michele for keeping readers in the loop of what the SA Government already regards as a fait accompli…

Christine Judith Nicholls | 26 September 2016  

Nuclear waste exists and has to be stored. Shouldn't our efforts be to find the best place to put it, for the good of the world as a whole?

Gavan Breen | 26 September 2016  

Great to learn of Edie Nyimpula King's staunch fight. Strange that an ABC poll of North Western communities found a completely opposite result. There is no outrage in Australian society in general partly because this whole nuclear dump idea is being dealt with in the media as a strictly South Australian matter. In fact, the rest of Australia is oblivious of the plan The "barrage" that Michele Madigan mentions is not only relentless and biased, it is also dishonest. Geraldine Thomas is a puppet of the nuclear industry and her views have been discredited. The BBC removed her video interviews, and are not likely to consult her again. See "Professor Geraldine Thomas and nuclear scientific misconduct" https://nuclear-news.net/2016/09/24/professor-geraldine-thomas-and-nuclear-scientific-misconduct/

Noel Wauchope | 26 September 2016  

thank you to respondents. Hopefully tonight's Q&A questions will include questions on BOTH dumps that the Federal and State governments are, each in their turn attempting to impose on SA. The Federal Gov are trying to place the national intermediate level (Lucas Heights) and low level r/a waste on Barndioota Station right next to the Indigenous Protected Area IPA of the Adnyamathanha peoples in SA's iconic Flinders Ranges. The SA government as explained in this article are continuing the push towards importing on third of the world's high level radioactive waste. And no, Gavan - it's not our responsibility. It's our responsibility to protect our own country and present and future generations.It's the responsibility of the governments which allowed the buildup of such dangerous material to fund their own solution. If the nuclear industry succeeds in scoring a nuclear dump for the world, then the nuclear industry in each country has permission to expand. Good news that the North and West of the State are voting differently - no wonder given SA's nuclear history.

Michele Madigan | 26 September 2016  

Timely article by Michele Madigan, long-time supporter of Aboriginal peoples in their fight against nuclear invasion of their country. Pass it on and encourage others to join the rally outside Parliament House at 11am on Saturday 15 October. Christobel Mattingley

Christobel Mattingley | 26 September 2016  

Thanks so much for this article Michele, and for bringing the people's voice to the fore. Love the quote from Brendan Lovett.

Susan Connelly | 26 September 2016  

So many of us congratulating SA on their clean energy progress and now this speculation on SA being the nuclear dump, again. Thank you Michele for maintaining our eternal vigilance.

Kay McPadden | 26 September 2016  

Hi Michelle I have heard of your great work in my research. But it is only now that I have come across you. Have a look at this: www.blackmistburntcountry.com.au Kind regards JD Mittmann

JD Mittmann | 26 September 2016  

Thank you for explaining reality, which is being smeared by greed and government corruption.

Eve Anderson | 26 September 2016  

Sister Michele, thanks for your reply to my comment. I don't agree. We have all sorts of responsibilities: for our country, our states,our town, our family, the world (ask Pope Francis). We have a responsibility to try to protect East Timor from the greed of Australia. We have responsibilities to help poor communities in other parts of the world, even though it will deprive us of some of our wealth. We have to always think of "the big plicture"

Gavan Breen | 29 September 2016  

The great leader Menzies Loyal to the Crown, in his eagerness to please ‘Mother England’, he stood aside and allowed the Brits to scatter shavings of Plutonium from the air onto the desert of an aboriginal tribal land. plutonium a man made element unique in the Cosmos, its Half life is 250,000 years. Five time the history of our earliest inhabitants. Such is the contempt that Menzies held for Australians that he permitted this crime against our nation that although they, the British military, say they have cleaned their mess up we have a slice of our sunburnt country that may stay poisoned for a billion years. Such was the arrogance of Menzies the great leader. Maralinga, Montebello island atomic tests and Barrow Island infected with Anthrax spores (live for 100 years in the soil) duplicating a test off the coast of Scotland. Menzies only ever wanted to be a Lord His treachery is unforgivable, his heart was never here.

John Ward | 05 October 2016  

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