A South Australian Aboriginal group says it will still challenge the results of a ballot to determine community support on whether a nuclear waste dump would be built on their traditional lands in Kimba, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.
The ballot papers have been posted today, but the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation says that the results of the vote would be invalid if it wins its appeal, expected to go before the Federal Court again next year.
The group had their bid to stop the ballot dismissed in the Federal Court in July, which found it had not contravened the Racial Discrimination Act. The group had argued it was unlawful because it excluded Native Title holders people in the region.
In a statement sent to NITV News on Wednesday, the group said the judgment indicated if they [the Board] won the appeal, "the Minister [Resources Minister Matt Canavan] will likely not lawfully be able to take the ballot into account when making any decision."
The Federal Government have shortlisted two sites near Kimba as potential locations for a low-level radioactive waste storage facility, while a third is near the Flinders Ranges town of Hawker.
“The ballot is allowed to proceed, but on the understanding that, if we are subsequently successful on the appeal, then it will likely be effectively null and void," the Barngarla people said.
“Accordingly, Barngarla are proceeding with the appeal already lodged in the full Federal Court.
The Board said they assumed the Council had “reviewed the decision and would be aware of this implication.”
“The Barngarla will also be taking all other responsible actions it can be to ensure that our members, the first people for the area and the holders of significant native title property rights in the area, have the same rights as other members of the community,'' they said.
National Radioactive Waste Management Taskforce general manager Sam Chard said the decision confirmed the community ballots could proceed after more than two years of consultation.
"Communities will have multiple ways in which they can have their say on the proposal,” Ms Chard said.
”Whether individuals are for or against the facility, we’re confident the communities at the centre of the process are well informed," she said.
In a statement to NITV News, CEO of the District Council of Kimba, Deb Larwood said the council was unable to “comment on this matter as it is still before the court,” but told NITV News there was “in excess of 800 voters” who “are eligible to have their say.”
Support for the nuclear waste facility is thought to be mixed across the local community.
Jeff Baldock, who has nominated his Kimba farm as a possible site, is backing the project as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure Kimba’s future”.
The ballot will close on November 7.