the public are making submissions based on inaccurate information provided in the Issues Paper. The dismissive response of the Royal Commission undermines any confidence that the Issues Papers are accurate overviews of the nuclear industry.”
PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS BASED ON MISINFORMATION:
Friends of the Earth Adelaide have recently informed the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle of a factual error in Issues Paper 1, concerning the regulation of Aboriginal Heritage matters in South Australia. Issues Paper 1, which deals with the exploration, extraction and milling of uranium, states that Aboriginal sites of significance are protected by the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988.
“The Royal Commission was informed in writing that this is not the case for BHP Billiton, South Australia’s biggest miner,” said Nectaria Calan of Friends of the Earth Adelaide. “Under the Indenture Act, which applies solely to BHP Billiton, the company’s Olympic Dam mine and some 15, 000 square kilometres of the surrounding Stuart Shelf are exempt from the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988. This exemption would carry through to any future expansion of uranium mining by BHP Billiton at Olympic Dam or in the surrounding area.”
In his recent response to Friends of the Earth Adelaide Royal Commissioner Kevin Scarce insisted that in the event of an expansion of uranium mining Aboriginal Heritage matters would be regulated by the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988.
“This is simply not the law throughout the state,” said Ms Calan. “Friends of the Earth Adelaide have supplied the Royal Commission with referenced information regarding the Roxby Downs (Indenture Ratification) (Amendment of Indenture) Amendment Act 2011, which amends the current Indenture Act to apply to any expansion formally announced by the company up until October 2016. If it was an honest mistake to begin with, it is negligent not to correct it.”
“At one point, the Royal Commissions reply almost acknowledges the inaccuracy by suggesting that it is the substance rather than source of legal protections that is important. However, there are substantive differences between the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 and the legal framework that does apply to BHP Billiton. For example, one of the differences between the law that applies to BHP Billiton, and that which applies elsewhere in the state, is that certain matters of Aboriginal Heritage are decided by BHP Billiton instead of the Minister. This includes determining which areas are to be protected. A corporate body with a commercial interest in land also making determinations on its competing non-commercial values is arguably a conflict of interest. At the least it is a substantive difference from such powers being held by the Minister.”
“Does the Royal Commission have such little respect for Aboriginal Heritage matters that they consider such details irrelevant?” asked Ms Calan. “The starting point for any credible consultation process is the presentation of accurate information. Curiously, the Royal Commission advised Friends of the Earth to put our concerns regarding this issue in a submission, sidestepping the key issue – that the public are making submissions based on inaccurate information provided in the Issues Paper. The dismissive response of the Royal Commission undermines any confidence that the Issues Papers are accurate overviews of the nuclear industry.”