South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has said the decision on an international nuclear waste dump will be put to the people. He's planning to hold a referendum with the final say on proposed sites to go to Traditional Owners.
His proposal flies in the face of the State's Royal Commission, which had already conducted a series of Citizen Juries that found that 66% of people did not want a nuclear waste facility in South Australia.
Mr. Weatherill admits a Referendum won't happen before the next state election in March 2018, and has explained it's a long term proposition for the state to consider. Without bipartisanship however, the proposal can't progress.
About Karina Lester
Karina Lester is a Yankunytjatjara Anangu woman from the APY Lands. She is currently the Aboriginal member on the Natural Resources Management Council (NRMC) and Chair for the Aboriginal state-wide Advisory Committee. Karina is also a member of the ‘No Dump Alliance’ which advocates against nuclear waste being dumped in South Australia.
Karina is the daughter of well-known Yankunytjatjara Elder and Activist Yami Lester, who was blinded by the 'black mist' from the first Atomic Test Bomb at Emu Junction, South Australia.
NITV: Premier Jay Weatherill has decided to take the idea of nuclear dumping to a state referendum. What are your thoughts on this?
KL: It’s crazy; I don’t think it’s necessary at all. The South Australian people have already spoken against this before.
There have been two citizen groups that have discussed this. Citizen group 1 and 2 both have said that they strongly heard Aboriginal voices on the matter and there was a resounding no to taking nuclear waste.
NITV: With the government pushing for a nuclear waste dump, what happens now with the local Indigenous population?
KL: It certainly puts a fracture amongst the population. The Premier says that there are Indigenous people interested in taking the waste, but he would not say who.
It’s up to us as a community to know who and which community is interested.
The risk is that while Weatherill is doing his fact finding, that he will come across the difficulty of needing bi-partisan support to get these changes in place. It’s actually illegal here to have nuclear waste dumped, and it is federally [prohibited] as well. He has got a lot of work to do to convince people, because people have been speaking very strongly against this. But the risk is high.
Watch Karina expressing her views (English follows Yankuntatjara)
NITV: Premier Weatherill says that local Indigenous groups would be given a “right of veto” over any proposed dump “if a proposed facility would impact upon their lands”. Do you think they’ll listen if local groups vote No?
KL: I don’t think so. I’m nervous about this right for Indigenous communities to veto the vote. It puts a lot of pressure on Indigenous communities, and Indigenous people as a whole.
I’m also nervous that … the waste could end up here by the time the community has made its decision. It’s a bit of a worry.