• Regina McKenzie wants to save her traditional lands from becoming the site of Australia's first nuclear waste dump. (Laura Murphy-Oates)Source: Laura Murphy-Oates
The project has sparked bitter debates and divided Traditional Owners.
NITV Staff Writer

9 Jul 2018 - 3:03 PM  UPDATED 9 Jul 2018 - 3:05 PM

An Aboriginal Elder whose traditional land has been identified as a possible site for a radioactive waste dump says community consultation has divided her family.

A cattle station in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges - 460km north of Adelaide - has been short-listed by the federal government as the possible location of a new national repository for low and medium level nuclear material.

The Senate's Economics Reference Committee visited the nearby town of Hawker for a public hearing on Friday.

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Supporters of the dump claim it would bring much-needed employment and money to the area.

For opponents, the facility would not only be a toxic blot on the landscape, it would defile the traditional Aboriginal relationship with the land.

Regina McKenzie, an Adnyamathanha Elder who opposes the waste dump, said the cultural heritage consultation has damaged her relationships.

"The process has left me feeling ostracised within my own family,” her submission to the committee stated.

"I find myself constantly witnessing aggressive, misogynistic and culturally inappropriate behaviour from a select few who have been validated through the process."

Ms McKenzie has also labelled the government's Aboriginal cultural heritage assessment as "ineffective, inappropriate and incomplete".

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Adnyamathanha traditional owners have travelled from remote South Australia to Melbourne to speak with Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg.

The committee also heard from supporters of the project, including the Hawker Community Development Board.

"Consensus among the community is that the community benefit program has assisted in the district getting some needed projects completed that may not otherwise occur," the board stated in its submission.

"Our small country town that has been dwindling for years has the potential to harness this project and grow into the future."

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As a royal commission hands down it's final report about whether South Australia should lead the way in nuclear waste, the fight over the nuclear waste dump in the community of Hawker heats up.

Another site – near Kimba, a small town on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula – has also been considered for the facility. A similar public hearing was heard there on Thursday.

Senator Rex Patrick from the Centre Alliance party has criticised the site selection process.

"I have walked away from the last couple of days unconvinced that it's being run as smoothly as possible and transparently as possible," he was quoted by the ABC.

"There's been a lack of transparency in the process, a lack of [consistency] in information. There has been a lack of contrary views put forward.”

The senate committee will hand down its findings and recommendations on August 14.

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