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Barngarla Traditional Owners honoured for hard-fought victory over nuclear waste dump plan

Giovanni Torre -

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation has been awarded the 2023 Peter Rawlinson Award for a successful seven-year campaign to protect their country in South Australia from the long-term threats posed by radioactive waste.

The award, which celebrates outstanding voluntary contributions to protect the environment, was announced at the Australian Conservation Foundation's AGM in Melbourne on Thursday night.

ACF's nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney said the Traditional Owners had won a "David and Goliath" battle.

"In August 2023, a David and Goliath struggle came to an end when federal Resources Minister Madeleine King announced the federal government would not advance a plan inherited from the former Coalition government to locate a national radioactive waste facility near Kimba on SA's Eyre Peninsula," he said.

"The federal waste plan was deeply flawed and inconsistent with international best practice.

"The Barngarla always opposed radioactive waste on their country and repeated calls for Morrison government ministers Matt Canavan and Keith Pitt to scrap the plan were ignored.

"For seven years, against sustained pressure and propaganda, they stood firm."

Mr Sweeney noted the Traditional Owners' long legal fight against the dump.

"In July 2023, the Federal Court found Minister Pitt's decision to declare the Kimba site was not valid because it was biased, rather than based on an independent and thorough process," he said.

"Federal Labor's subsequent decision to accept the court's judgment was a prudent and a proper call and offers an important chance to change the government's approach to this complex issue.

"ACF thanks the Barngarla and acknowledges the sustained and successful efforts of a proud community to honour their past and protect their future. All of us are richer as a result."

Established in 1992, the Rawlinson Award is given annually in memory of ACF Councillor Peter Rawlinson – a zoologist, lecturer in biological science and environmental campaigner.

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