Home' Tennant and District Times : 2014-0606 TDT Contents 6 TENNANT AND DISTRICT TIMES FRIDAY 6 JUNE 2014
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PERFORMING THIS WEEKEND
Rob has performed with Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee
Lewis, so should be some good old Rock ‘n’ Roll!
Muckaty on trial
PADRAIC GIBSON has followed the
saga of Muckaty since the site was
first nominated seven years ago.
He has been running a blog about
the current Federal Court trial
on the Beyond Nuclear Initiative
website, reprinted in part here.
The trial so far...
THE Federal Court trial examining
the nomination of Aboriginal Land
at Muckaty for a nuclear waste dump
began in Melbourne on Monday.
The day was taken up entirely by the
opening submissions of Ron Merkel QC,
appearing for Traditional Owners opposed
to the waste dump. If proven, the revelations
contained in these submissions are an explo-
sive indictment on the actions of the Northern
Land Council, particularly their Principal
Legal Officer Ron Levy, who Merkel QC said
was the “guiding hand” in the nomination
from its inception.
Merkel said that the behaviour of the NLC
in making the nomination was such an egre-
gious breach of the rights guaranteed to Tra-
ditional Owners under the Aboriginal Land
Rights Act NT that it should be struck out. Mr
Merkel also stressed that the Commonwealth
Government could not be considered an “in-
nocent third party” in this breach of the rights
of Muckaty Traditional Owners, given their
close collaboration with Mr Levy through the
The Muckaty Land Trust was handed back
to Warlmanpa people in 1993 by Justice Gray,
under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern
Territory) Act 1976, following many years of
struggle and a lengthy determination.
Central to the anthropology that informed
the hand back was a rejection of an “estate”
approach to traditional ownership, which
would prescribe specific areas of land to
small family groups, in favour of one which
emphasises collective forms of decision
making amongst all groups of Muckaty , due
to the overlapping dreamings and responsi-
bilities of the clan groups on desert country.
In contrast to this, the nomination of a
discrete site on the Land Trust for this waste
dump was made by one small family group,
“the Lauder branch of the Ngapa clan”, just
one branch of one clan amongst the seven
clan groups that were recognised by Justice
Gray as forming the Land Trust.
Significantly, Ms A. Lauder, the key propo-
nent from the Lauder branch, was delegate
for the Muckaty region on the NLC Full
Council and her husband sat on the NLC
Executive 2006, when the Commonwealth
Government were making overtures to the
NLC about the benefits of a waste dump.
When other Muckaty Traditional Owners
became aware of the nature of this potential
nomination in 2006, they rejected the narrow
approach to traditional ownership, demand-
ing the NLC convene broader cross-clan
decision making meetings. These meetings
In perhaps the most damning piece of
evidence presented on Monday, Mr Merkel
argued that NLC lawyer Mr Levy, strongly
committed to the waste dump, had heav-
ily edited, to the point of “becoming the
author” of the anthropology report relied
upon for the nomination. This despite the
report being signed by the NLCs “in house”
Mr Merkel argued that Mr Levy’s report was
such a massive departure from the anthropol-
ogy that formed the basis of the Muckaty land
grant that it effectively robbed Warlmanpa
people of their ownership rights and should
invalidate the nomination.
Mr Merkel’s second line of attack was on
the deed signed by the Commonwealth and
the Northern Land Council that constitutes
the nomination of Muckaty and outlines the
terms of the compensation that will provided
by the Commonwealth.
Again, Mr Merkel argued that the terms of
this deed are such an egregious breach of the
rights of Traditional Owners, that it should
be struck out as invalid.
Rather than clearly outlining the rights of
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