- by David Lock
- The Guardian
- Issue #2032
All marchers entered Gladstone Square through the smoking ceremony. The welcome to country was given by Barngala elder, Dave, assisted by his grandson. He expressed pride for his grandson, who was able to speak the Barngala language, despite being a member of the stolen generation and initially denied access to his language and culture.
A minute’s silence was then observed for the victims of the British atomic bomb tests between 1957 and 1963. Speakers followed, starting with Barngala woman June Lennon, who shared her family’s story as survivors of the Emu Field explosion. The horror of this story should make any Australian anti-nuclear. June said, “We stand against a dump in anyone’s country!” Dawn Taylor, Barngala Community president and Jason Bilney, Barngala Community chairperson, together confirmed that a dump would kill Kimba. The Barngala people had been excluded from the ballot held in Kimba. They are now fighting to be heard. In an interview with the ABC, Bilney “insisted Barngarla people were never consulted about the plan and found themselves excluded from a community vote,” stating that:
“Within six months of winning our native title and fighting for twenty-one years in the Federal Court to get a determination, to then be told there’s a nuclear waste dump being built on our country – we had to go out of our way as Barngarla and contact the government. […] The government’s come out and announced they’ll commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. How can they on one hand say that and then on the other hand break the heart of the First Nations people?”
Peter Woolford, Farmers Against the Dump, said the exercise had been a terrible decision process. He asked, “Why put high-level waste above the ground on productive cropping land?” He explained that it had been a totally unfair process with the vote limited only to Kimba residents. No safety analysis presented a “dangerous precedent for all waste to come,” Peter declared and noted that it has been a seven-year fight so far.
Sisters Heather and Regina McKenzie recounted the struggle to stop the dump in the Flinders Ranges. This was a win despite the government splitting families.
Speaking for the National Environmental Protection Group, David Sweeny accused politicians of being unfit to make decisions about a dump with a toxic life of 10,000 years.
It was suggested that Lucas Heights is still appropriate and ANSTO is quite capable of managing current and future waste there.
Greens spokesperson Senator Barbara Pocock decried the $9.9 million of taxpayer money spent by the government in a legal fight against the Barngala people, along with $600,000 to the Kimba Council as a sweetener.
In addition, the Albanese Labor government has spent another $300,000 fighting the Barngala people – “Federal and State governments must stop,” was the plea.
SA Unions representative, Dash Taylor Johnson, Manager of Health and Safety Training deplored the shameful disregard for workers and communities in the path of any movement of waste, and made it clear that it was time for Labor “to act and stop.”
At the end of the gathering everyone was treated to some rousing live music. Johnny Lovett was outstanding in performing songs with a profound message, Maralinga and Stolen Children, powerful music followed by a local reggae act.
The rally sent a clear message of support for the Barngala people as well as the Kimba community in their continuing struggle against the nuclear waste dump proposal.
PORT PIRIE MEETING
Ms Dare and Aunty Dawn Taylor met with Premier Peter Malinauskas and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher during the state government’s country cabinet forum in Port Pirie.
Mr Malinauskus said while the state government did not have the power to stop the planned facility, he would express his support for the Barngarla people to have the right to veto to the federal Labor government.
Barngarla elder Linda Dare says Kimba is a site of great significance to traditional owners, and especially for women.