Kurlalu yarnmi Majju Majju Manu Wangku ka
Wangangka yama nyirrinjji mana Manu Wangku Kuna
After abandoning plans for a national dump in SA in 2004, the former Howard federal government announced in 2005 that it would pursue three sites in the Northern Territory, passing legislation to override NT government opposition. The sites were Harts Range, Mt Everard and Fishers Ridge. Amendments made in 2006 allowed additional site nominations from Aboriginal Land Councils.
The Northern Land Council offered an area on the Muckaty Land Trust for assessment in 2007, despite opposition from many Traditional Owners. A determined community campaign led by the Traditional Owners gained support from trade unions, public health and human rights organisations around the country. Annual demonstrations in Tennant Creek pledged direct action against any attempts to build the dump.
The perception of remote Australia as an uninhabited sacrifice zone was captured by comments made by former Science Minister Brendan Nelson, who asked “Why can’t people in the middle of nowhere have a low and intermediate level waste facility” and his successor Julie Bishop, who stated the sites were “far from any form of civilisation.”
The Department of Defence sites were under consideration until 2012, but it was clear that Muckaty was the preferred site,with the government ignoring clear opposition and calling it a voluntary nomination.
In June 2014, half way through federal court proceedings launched by Traditional Owners, the federal government agreed to not further pursue the site.
Traditional Owners released the following statements after hearing their campaign had been successful:
Marlene Nungarrayi Bennett, Warlmanpa woman said, “Today will go down in the history books of Indigenous Australia on par with the Wave Hill Walk-off, Mabo and Blue Mud Bay. The Warlmanpa Nation has won an eight-year battle against the might and power of the Commonwealth Government and Northern Land Council. Justice has prevailed and this is a win for all Territorians.”
Penny Williams Namikilli said “ngulayilpa wanganya ngurru-ku partta-wurru mar-darn- jaku marjumarju kula yanjaku. kuyayi ngurru kirlka kan-jin-mi ,mayi parnta.” [Translated from Warlmanpa: We talked about our land to keep the waste away off the land, not to put it there. We want it to remain clean with bush tucker.]
Milwayi Traditional Owner Gladys Nungarrayi Brown said, “The land is important, we have to keep it clean without radioactive waste. Our ancestors walked around that land and were always looking after it- generation after generation they kept handing that knowledge on. We have to keep passing on that knowledge to future generations.”
Kylie Sambo, a Warramungu/Warlmanpa hip hop artist who wrote the popular track “Muckaty” released a statement of solidarity when it was announced that the Wallerberdina site in SA was shortlisted (though, thankfully, the federal government later abandoned plans for a dump at Wallerberdina):
Statement from Muckaty Traditional Owners regarding proposed new nuclear waste dump nomination on Muckaty Land Trust.
Written by Penny Phillips Napangardi and Dianne Stokes Nampin. November 5, 2014
We heard in the news that people want to nominate Muckaty for the nuclear waste dump again.
Minister Gray and Minister Macfarlane visited us here in Tennant Creek- they heard what we said about the nuclear waste dump-we said NO.
They have seen the conflicts between us.
Enough is enough- this issue will not be resolved, we want the Northern Land Council to just let it go.
Leave the waste where it is and don’t dig up any more uranium.
We fought hard for our people to get Land Rights. The old people that have gone, they fought hard and now people are trying to sell their soul and country- again.
We were so happy the first site nomination was closed- we fought very hard to stop it. We had just relaxed after stopping the waste dump and now they came back and kicked us in the guts.
We said in court and we said it to the Minister- we all agreed we don’t want it on Muckaty Land Trust. All the Warlmanpa said this, the ones who went against the waste.
We want to be clear- we do not want the nuclear waste anywhere in the Muckaty Land Trust.
It looks like the same mob are going to be fighting again to protect Muckaty near where Milwayi goes and comes back into Helen Springs. We are all connected through there.
We want the Northern Land Council and government to stop doing this. Why don’t they just stop hassling people asking them if they want this waste to go on Muckaty?
They think its is their land but it is not right to put the waste there. We will be making the same argument again, standing together to say NO.
When we met with the NLC in Tennant Creek they said they would not push ahead a new nomination. This news today made us very sad.
We want to talk to the NLC Full Council before they vote about a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty. We are Traditional Owners and we speak for that land.
Keep the poison out of Muckaty.
Kurlalu yarnmi Majju Majju Manu Wangku ka (Warumungu)
Wangangka yama nyirrinjji mana Manu Wangku Kuna (Warlmanpa)