A group of traditional owners in Australia say the Northern Land Council (NLC) is going against its wishes by negotiating with the Federal Government over a possible radioactive waste dump in their area.
Dianne Stokes represents the traditional owners and says they have written to the federal Science Minister, Julie Bishop, stating they do not want a waste dump.
But she says the NLC has been negotiating with the Federal Government over the issue anyway.
"What we want them to do is start listening to us so we can act together and ... if we say no to the waste dump we don't want it in our country, well they should be listening to the traditional owners," she said.
On its website the The Northern Land Council says it,
"...was established in 1973 to represent traditional Aboriginal landowners and Aboriginal people in the Top End of the Northern Territory of Australia.
The most important responsibilities of the NLC are to consult with traditional landowners and other Aborigines with an interest in the land.
This is to make sure the landowners as a group give their informed consent before the Land Council or a Land Trust enters into any agreement, or takes any action affecting their land. It also ensures that affected Aboriginal communities and groups have the chance to express their views and that land use agreements entered into are reasonable. These principles are fundamental to the Aboriginal Land Rights(Northern Territory) Act 1976."
The following is from AAP (Australia).
Traditional owners reject nuclear dump
By Tara Ravens
February 22, 2007 05:21pm
A GROUP of Aborigines have written to the Federal Government, urging it not to build a nuclear waste dump on their land in the Northern Territory.
The letter also called on the Government to stop negotiating with one of Australia's most influential Aboriginal land councils because it was leaving them out of the consultation process.
The 16 traditional owners represent five family groups from the Muckaty region, 120km north of Tennant Creek.
Their land is one of three sites being considered by the Federal Government for a repository to store low and medium-level radioactive waste.
Other options include Harts Range and Mt Everard, near Alice Springs, and Fishers Ridge near Katherine.
In a letter sent to Federal Science Minister Julie Bishop this week, the Muckaty people called on the Government to halt waste dump negotiations with the Northern Land Council (NLC).
The body, which represents traditional owners, has held talks with the Federal Fovernment since April last year, when the site was first proposed.
But locals feel they are being left out of the process.
"We do not think there has been proper consultation with all of the Muckaty traditional owners about this idea," the letter said.
"Muckaty traditional owners have said they do not want a nuclear waste dump on Muckaty land."
Not all traditional owners had been invited to meetings between the federal government and the NLC, and people had not been told about the outcomes, the letter said.
"As traditional owners of Muckaty, we do not want the Federal Government to continue talking with the Northern Land Council and traditional owners about having a commonwealth radioactive waste dump at Muckaty.
"We ask you to understand and acknowledge that should the Northern Land Council nominate our land for the storage of nuclear waste, it is without our consent," the letter said.
At a senate estimates hearing in Canberra last week, the federal science department said the Government wanted to work with indigenous owners to find a spot for the waste dump, and was seeking an agreement from Aboriginal people to offer up indigenous land for the facility.
A full report on the possible sites is due by the end of March 2007.