Muckaty Nuclear Waste Dump Passed in Lower House

The radioactive waste dump legislation was pushed through the house of Representatives yesterday - 68 votes for to 6 against. This is despite the current Federal court challenge by the Muckaty Traditional Owners over the legality of how the government "gained consent" for the site!

Greens and Independents opposed it, and Coalition MP Natasha Griggs crossed the floor in opposition to this racist, undemocratic, draconian legislation. The legislation now goes to the Senate, exactly twelve months since Muckaty Station was targeted.

Ferguson dumps on Greens nuclear tactics

Matthew Sadler and Andrea Hayward Sydney Morning Herald February 21, 2011

Government frontbencher Martin Ferguson has launched a stinging attack on the Australian Greens for trying to stall draft laws for Australia's first radioactive waste dump.

The resources minister accused Greens MP Adam Bandt of rampant hypocrisy by opposing a dump at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory.

Mr Ferguson said the Greens say they support the establishment of a single national radioactive waste facility but erected "every possible conceivable barrier to prevent its realisation".

Mr Bandt sought "to pursue short-term political activities using traditional owners to suit his own short-term political needs," he told parliament.

The only Greens MP in the lower house stood condemned and the party was only interested in consulting with traditional owners who agreed with it, the resources minister said.

Mr Ferguson said the debate was not about nuclear power but Australia's responsibility to meet its international obligations to establish a nuclear repository.

Earlier, Mr Bandt called on parliament to stop debating a plan for a nuclear waste dump until Mr Ferguson consulted with all affected parties.

Mr Bandt said traditional owners at Muckaty Station, near Tennant Creek, were having Australia's first nuclear waste tip "dumped on them" but the government and coalition pointed out the traditional owners are divided on the issue.

He told parliament the bill is being rammed through parliament before some traditional owners launched legal action in the federal court on Friday.

Earlier, he labelled a lower house committee report backing the legislation which overrides state and territory laws including the Native Title Act, a "whitewash".

Mr Bandt, supported by Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie tried to delay the bill's passage until Mr Ferguson had consulted more broadly with traditional owners.

But his amendment to the bill was voted down by the government, with the support of the coalition.

The National Radioactive Waste Radioactive Waste Managements Bill 2010 seeks further delays in the Senate once it has passed the lower house.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said the Greens would introduce a series of amendments in the upper house, including tightening the discretion given to the resources minister.

"This just gives total and unfettered discretion to the minister to put this thing wherever he thinks," Senator Ludlam told AAP.

The Greens want to establish a commission to look at alternative ways of dealing with the waste.

The opposition's resources and energy spokesman Ian Macfarlane told parliament the bill is one of the few good pieces of legislation to come into the House of Representatives.

Mr Macfarlane said low level nuclear waste is kept around Australia in highly unsuitable places.

These include in shipping containers in hospital car parks, basements of buildings in central business districts.

Mr Macfarlane said when the coalition was in government federal Labor opposed and hampered efforts to deal with nuclear waste "every step of the way."

Country Liberal Party MP Natasha Griggs told parliament the federal government had not shown sufficient respect to traditional owners and had not consulted them.

Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney said the planned dump was not a responsible way to handle radioactive waste.

It would be located in the weakest political constituency where it would affect the most vulnerable and marginal people, Mr Sweeney said.

The legislation lacked credibility and legitimacy.

"Any attempt to apply this law will be actively resisted," Mr Sweeney told AAP.

"And there will be a growing campaign against the imposition of a radioactive waste dump in the Northern Territory."

Labor split on Muckaty nuclear waste dump

ABC Rural Wednesday, 23/02/2011
A Northern Territory MP says he's disappointed members of his own party have voted in favour of a nuclear waste dump in his electorate.

The House of Representatives passed the bill 68 to six yesterday, for the facility to be built on Muckaty Station near Tennant Creek.
The Northern Territory site is the only one that's been seriously considered for the dump in recent years and had previously been opposed by the Federal Labor Party.

Labor's Gerry McCarthy says the residents in his Barkly electorate don't want the dump and will continue fighting it.

"I am representing hundreds of people from the Barkly who are opposed to this, and not just the Muckaty Traditional Owners," he said.
"There are a lot of people across the pastoral industry, for instance, [who are against it]. We share those constituents and Warren Snowdon will be held accountable, just as I will be held accountable."

Mr Snowdon, the Federal Labor Member for Lingiari, says he voted in favour for a nuclear waste facility in the Territory because it's important for the national interest.

Nigel Adlam NT News February 22nd, 2011

NT Natasha Griggs to cross floor over waste Dump

A Northern Territory federal MP is to vote against forcing the NT to house a nuclear waste dump.

The Liberal and National parties support the Labor Government's National Radioactive Waste Management Bill, which would lead to the $30 million dump being built near Tennant Creek. CLP Senator Nigel Scullion, Labor Senator Trish Crossin and Labor minister Warren Snowdon will vote for the Bill.

But Natasha Griggs said she would defy her party's whips and oppose the law.

"I don't support the nuclear waste dump and I've made this clear in the party room," she said.

"I'm not worried about going against the party line.

"I can't change my mind just because I've been elected. The whole point is that I represent the Territory in Canberra, not Canberra in the Territory." She spoke when the Bill was debated in Parliament yesterday.

Ms Griggs was elected to the seat of Solomon, which covers Darwin, Palmerston and a part of Litchfield, last year.

Her Labor predecessor, Damian Hale, also defied his party whips by opposing the nuclear dump.

The NT Environment Centre yesterday said the new law would undermine the Territory environment and the democratic rights of Territorians.

The centre's Cat Beaton said it singled out Muckaty Station as the only site under active consideration to store nuclear waste.

"If a radioactive waste dump proceeds in the Territory it would impact on all, not just Tennant Creek and the Barkly," said Ms Beaton.

"Nuclear fuel reprocessing waste would be unloaded at Darwin port."

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Nuclear dump laws 'show need for NT statehood

Jane Bardon ABC News 24th February 2011

The imminent passage of national nuclear waste dump legislation is another argument for the Northern Territory to become a state, the Territory's Statehood Committee says.

Federal laws making it easier to build a waste dump at Muckaty Station passed the House of Representatives this week. The laws are expected to pass the Senate next week.

Statehood Committee chairwoman Jane Aagaard has told the Territory Parliament that Territorians are not being treated fairly.

"This is the second intrusion into our rights as Territorians, the first being the earlier overturning of the euthanasia laws," she said.

"Not withstanding the controversial nature of both of these issues, surely Territorians have a right to have the laws passed by their Parliament respected in the same ways that states' laws are respected."

Ms Aagaard says many Territorians are not aware that their votes are not as influential as those from the states in referendums.

She says it will be unjust if Territory votes in a referendum on recognising Indigenous people in the constitution do not carry as much weight.

She says the Territory must become a state, so that it can fully influence the vote, because more than 30 per cent of the population is Indigenous.

The committee is recommending the Territory Government hold conventions on a proposed state constitution by the end of the year.

Chief Minister Paul Henderson says politicians must convince the public their concerns about statehood will be addressed.

"If we don't get it right this time through this process I don't know if I will live long enough to see statehood," he said.

"Because I don't think we can afford to fail the test twice of our own people not having the confidence to vote yes for statehood."

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