Conservative Indigenous ALP political figure Warren Mundine has taken a position on the board of the Australian Uranium Association (AUA), the industry’s peak lobby group. He is also co-convener of a new Indigenous “dialogue group” established by the AUA.The new group includes Indigenous academic Marcia Langton. Both Mundine and Langton have been crucial to providing support for the racist NT Intervention, bitterly opposed by communities suffering under the policy.
The ALP 2007 national conference narrowly passed a motion abandoning opposition to new uranium mines. Mundine told The Australian, “We know that most of these mines are going to be on Indigenous land, our people need to receive the benefits”.
Labor have approved a new mine at Honeymoon in South Australia, while advancing projects at Nolan’s Bore in the Northern Territory and an expansion of the Beverly mine in SA.
They support a massive expansion of Roxby Downs, which would make it the biggest uranium mine in the world. A ban on uranium mining in WA was lifted following the election of the Liberal party state government in September 2008. In the NT alone, more than 200 new uranium exploration licenses have been granted in the past two years.
Aboriginal activists from the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) lashed out at the establishment of the new “ dialogue group”.
ANFA cite a 2008 Native Title working group study of hundreds of mining projects on Aboriginal land, which found that less than 20 had brought significant benefit to local communities.
Jillian Marsh, an Adnyamathanha custodian fighting to close down the Beverly mine said, “It is cynical for the uranium industry to act as if it can deliver for Aboriginal people. The main lasting effect of uranium mining for Aboriginal people is radioactive waste on their country”.
By Paddy Gibson