Australian Nuclear Free Alliance National Meeting Statement

23rd October 2019

Representatives of many Aboriginal Nations[1] and civil society organisations[2] came together over three days to continue the ANFA tradition of sharing experiences, plans and solidarity.

The meeting opened with a welcome from Nukunu Traditional Owner Daryl Thomas. This was followed by a cultural presentation highlighting the importance of maintaining culture through carving from senior Adnyamathanha master carver Roy Coulthard and Mr Thomas.

The focus of the first day was sharing stories of resistance to uranium mining and its impacts across the country. This included an analysis of uranium mining operations and proposals in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia.

The meeting was heartened to hear of the Mirarr people’s success in obtaining agreement from governments and the mining company to work with them to realise their long-standing aspiration for a post-mining regional economy in the Kakadu region. The meeting heard about the serious technical challenges involved in the current rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine and committed to support Mirarr in reclaiming their country as that clean up is undertaken in coming years.

The meeting heard of unresolved contamination concerns at the former Rum Jungle site and the need for further costly remediation work.

Delegates broke into small groups to discuss rehabilitation needs in local areas and returned from robust discussion with ideas for alternatives to extractive projects.

The meeting heard an overview of the vibrant Western Australian campaign which for ten years has successfully constrained all attempts to develop a commercial uranium industry in that state. 

The meeting received an update on the situation in South Australia including the potential impacts of the proposed expansion of BHP’s Olympic Dam mine. Serious concerns were identified especially in relation to water consumption and deficient tailings management.

As well as ANFA’s national work the meeting heard of members’ participation in international campaigns including through the No Nukes Asia forum in Taiwan in September and through international engagement in forums critiquing nuclear power as a response to climate change. This issue is also being talked about in Australia, ANFA has recently contributed to the federal review into nuclear power submitting evidence about why nuclear power is never the answer.

A panel representing the ANFA youth caucus discussed ways to effectively grow ANFA among young people. The panel talked about the value of campaigning with family and community, of communicating with young people through social media and film and about not being afraid to speak up, get organised and act as this is how other young people will also be inspired to also stand up. 

The second day began with a big conversation about nuclear waste. The meeting heard powerful stories from families and community affected by the proposed federal radioactive waste dump and remembered other communities that have fought the same fight and won. Delegates heard about how badly the government is treating people and country and ANFA committed to keep supporting the strong communities standing up against the waste dump.

Representatives of the Kupa Piti Kunga Tjuta – the women who stood up and stopped a planned national radioactive waste dump in 2004 – shared their stories of struggle and songs of country. ANFA knows the power of historic victories and as a group reaffirmed that people are so much stronger together than on our own.

The meeting heard from people who have lived through nuclear weapons tests and received a presentation from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). ICAN began in Australia in 2007 and has since been adopted in over 100 nations. The meeting was heartened to hear of ICAN’s 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, received for work on the nuclear weapons ban treaty. The ban treaty has been shaped and inspired by ANFA members as well as other First Nations stories about the impacts of nuclear weapons.

A new committee to continue the work of ANFA into the coming year was elected and the former committee’s efforts were acknowledged and applauded. The meeting concluded with an enthusiastic commitment to continue our shared work and our efforts for a nuclear free future beginning with a Stop the Dump rally at Port Augusta the next morning.

Statement passed on 23rd October, 2019.

[1] Nations: Adnyamathanha, Adnyamathanha/Kokatha, Adnyamathanha/Luritja, Adnyamathana/Kuyani, Googatha, Kaurna, Kokatha, Kunga Tjuta, Mirning, Ngarrindjeri, Nukunu, Pitjantjatjara, Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara Tjiwarl, Wongatha, Wurungu, Yankunytjatjara.

[2] Organisations: Australian Conservation Foundation, Ban Uranium Mining Permanently, Beyond Uranium Canberra, Conservation Council of Western Australia, Don’t Dump on SA, Flinders Local Action Group, Friends of the Earth, Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Josephite SA Reconciliation Circle, Keep Queensland Nuclear Free, No Dump Alliance, West Australian Nuclear Free Alliance, 3CR Community Radio