Aboriginal elders lead big protest in Tennant Creek, prior to legal hearing about nuclear waste dump plan

Elders lead dump demhttp://www.ntnews.com.au/news/northern-territory/elders-lead-dump-demo/story-fnk0b1zt-1226932228540 BY MONIKA O’HANLON NT NEWS MAY 26, 2014 THE main street of a Territory town was flooded with more than 250 people protesting the proposed nuclear waste dump at Muckaty Station yesterday. Tennant Creek was overrun by a sea of yellow signs reading “Don’t radioactive waste the Territory” as kids led the march, holding up homemade banners and chanting “land rights not dump sites”.

Seven years ago the Northern Land Council nominated Muckaty Station as a potential site for a nuclear waste storage facility, including waste from nuclear medicine and operations of the Lucas Heights ­nuclear reactor in Sydney.

The site is part of a land trust shared by five interrelated indigenous groups – Milway, Ngapa, Ngarrka, Wirntiku and Yapayapa. Most traditional owners oppose the plan but some said “yes” to the proposed storage facility.

Bunny Nabarula – a senior traditional elder and part of the Milway group – is among those who have spent years fighting to preserve Muckaty.

“I was eight years of age when my grandfather first showed me country, but I never forget,” Ms Nabarula said.

“We don’t want the waste here. NLC picked out the wrong people. Us mob fight for this land.”

Dianne Stokes has worked tirelessly over the years to protect the Muckaty site, and on Saturday was named an ambassador at the Tennant Creek and Barkly Region Golden Hearts Awards.

“We won’t be stopping – we will continue to talk about it,” Ms Stokes said. “It’s time to put my foot down and protect the elders’ words. They’ve passed away and now they left it to us to protect our country.”

Wirntiku woman Penelope Phillips said she was concerned what would happen if the land wasn’t protected for the next generations. “We want to send a clear message out to the politicians and the people who said yes to it,” she said. “Tell them that we are still strong and we don’t want a nuclear waste dump in our country. Come back and meet the people. See what it looks like. “The politicians don’t talk to us. They don’t reply.”

The protest comes a week before a Federal Court hearing challenging the proposal for the dump on Muckaty begins in Melbourne. The hearing will continue in Tennant Creek before finishing in Darwin on July 4.

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