• Barngarla people say they will continue to fight a nuclear waste facility being placed on their Country, near Kimba, South Australia. (AAP)Source: AAP
The nuclear waste site is planned for Barngarla Country, but the amendments will allow Traditional Owners to take the matter to court.
Keira Jenkins

23 Jun 2021 - 4:41 PM  UPDATED 23 Jun 2021 - 4:43 PM

The Senate has passed legislation that would allow nuclear waste to be stored at a remote site in South Australia, replacing current city facilities.

The Morrison government was forced to abandon key features of the bill to gain opposition support, including a provision that would have locked in Kimba as the new storage location.

Instead, Minister for Resources Keith Pitt can issue an 'intention to declare' a preferred location.

The amended bill, which passed through the Senate this week, also allows for a judicial review of the location if there is a dispute.

Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation welcomed the reinstatement of the right to a judicial review on the process.

"This is a great moment for democracy, and for those who appreciate the independent scrutiny of government action," they said in a statement.

But while Barngarla said they see this as a win, they said their fight against the nuclear waste facility being placed on their Country, will not end.

"We have won our right to have judicial review restored in this process," they said.

"The broader failures are matters which will have to be dealt with in the future."

In 2019, the Australian Electoral Commission conducted a month-long community ballot, asking the question 'Do you support the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility being located at one of the nominated sites in the community of Kimba?'

The ballot returned a 61.58 per cent 'yes' vote.

Barngarla conducted their own poll, saying they had been excluded from the AEC's postal ballot.

100 per cent of the votes returned from Native Title holders said 'no' to the proposed nuclear facility.

Barngarla said the site selection process had been "completely and utterly miscarried".

"No proper heritage assessment of the site was ever undertaken," read the statement.

"... the most obvious and appalling example of this failed process was when the Government allowed the gerrymandering of the Kimba 'community ballot' in order to manipulate the vote.

"The simple fact remains that even though the Barngarla hold Native Title land closer to the proposed facility than the town of Kimba, the First Peoples for the area were not allowed to vote.

"...Mistakes have been made and the process needs to start again."

A unanimous “NO” vote from Traditional Owners on SA's proposed nuclear waste dump
Traditional Owners say they were excluded from voting in last month's Australian Electoral Commission ballot on a proposed nuclear waste dump in country SA - which returned a 61.58% 'yes' vote.