Article – NT nuclear waste dump could 'close the gap' for Aboriginal people: Bob Hawke

3 August 2014
ABC News
The storage of nuclear waste in the Northern Territory would help “close the gap” for Aboriginal people, creating financial opportunities, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke says.
And he told the Garma Festival in north-east Arnhem Land last night that NT Chief Minister Adam Giles was “keenly supportive” of his proposal.
In an address, Mr Hawke repeated his long-held belief nuclear generated power was essential for tackling climate change – and Australia had “a responsibility and an obligation” to take nuclear waste by-product.
Mr Hawke said a report he commissioned during the later stages of his prime ministership found the “safest remote geological formations for this purpose… were in the Northern Territory and to some extent in Western Australia”.
“In creating a safer energy cycle in a world facing a threat of global warming, we would not only be doing good for the rest of the world, we would be doing enormously well for Australia, as the world would pay handsomely for this service,” Mr Hawke said.
“And we would do particularly well for Aboriginal Australians.”
Adam Giles ‘keenly supportive’ of NT nuclear waste dump: Hawke
Mr Hawke said he had discussed the proposal with Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles.
“[Mr Giles] tells me he’s been approached by a number of elders who, like himself, are keenly supportive of this proposal,” he said.
Mr Hawke said such an enterprise would need to be owned and controlled in the public interest by the Government – and “none of this should happen without full discussion with and the consent of Aboriginal leaders”.
In 2005, Mr Hawke urged Labor to rethink its uranium policy and promote Australia as a safe place for nuclear waste.
“If we were to do that, we would have a source of income – forget about current account deficit,” he said, adding that such income could be allocated to addressing environmental issues in such as salinity, and also flow on to Aboriginal communities.
“We can revolutionise the economics of Australia if we did this.”
Comment was being sought from Mr Giles.
Hawke government treaty hopes still alive
At Garma last night, Mr Hawke said he had hoped agreement would be reached on a treaty with Australia’s Aboriginal people during his time in public office.
“It saddens me that this aspiration has not yet been fulfilled. It is still my hope that this may come to pass,” Mr Hawke said.
He said a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution was “long overdue”.
“I know this is a long-held aspiration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – the list of leaders who have called for recognition in the constitution is long and distinguished,” he said.
“This will be the chance for all Australians… to acknowledge the awe-inspiring achievements of the first Australians (as) the rightful opening chapter of the Australian story.”
Courtesy of ABC News