Federal court rejects bid to stop nuclear storage council ballot

In 2018 hundreds of people from across the state came together to rally against the proposed national radioactive waste management facility in Kimba.
In 2018 hundreds of people from across the state came together to rally against the proposed national radioactive waste management facility in Kimba.

The federal court has rejected a South Australian Aboriginal group's bid to stop a council ballot on a proposed nuclear storage facility near Kimba.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporationlaunched legal action against the District Council of Kimba last year, arguing that a poll of residents to gauge local support for the development contravened the Racial Discrimination Act.

The council planned to gauge community support among its ratepayers by holding a vote, after the federal government shortlisted two sites near Kimba as possible locations to store the radioactive waste.

The corporation claimed their exclusion from the Kimba ballot was based on their Aboriginality and would impair their rights as native title owners.

But on Friday Justice Richard White dismissed the application, ruling that the council's actions did not contravene racial discrimination laws.

In a statement the Barngarla people said they respected the federal court's decision, but would consider further legal action.

"The Barngarla respects the decision of the federal court, as the court has to interpret complicated legislation," the statement read.

"However, more generally we consider it sad that in the 21st century we are required to take legal action to allow us to have the right to vote on the major decision of the day.

"This case has been about standing up for the right of Aboriginal people to vote on important issues which affect their rights."

The federal government is yet to reveal its preferred location, but following the court ruling said it was mindful of the need to reach a decision.

A spokesperson for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said more details will be made available at a later date.

"The Department welcomes the decision of the Court today in Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation v. District Council of Kimba," the spokesperson said.

"Consultation has remained open during the proceedings, and we continue to encourage people both for and against the proposal to make their views known by making a submission.

"Rest assured we are mindful of the need to reach a decision on the current nominations after proper consultation, and we thank the communities involved for their patience to date.

"The Department will examine the decision in detail in the coming days, before advising the communities who voluntarily entered into the process, of the next steps."