Barngarla nuclear ballot case dismissed

Legal action against the Kimba District Council regarding the community ballot on the National Radioactive Waste Management facility has been dismissed by the Federal Court.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) argued the ballot contravened the Racial Discrimination Act by not including the Barngarla people.

The ballot, originally planned for August to September 2018, was to be a non-binding survey of ratepayer support of a radioactive waste facility at two proposed locations within the Kimba district.

The Barngarla people have been granted native title of land neighbouring both locations, but no members of the organisation resided within the council area as at June 30, 2018.

The ballot has been held up by an injunction for about 10 months to allow the BDAC case to be heard.

Justice Richard White dismissed the BDAC application on Friday morning, finding no contravention of the Racial Discrimination Act had been established.

Kimba District Council mayor Dean Johnson said the council was "pleased" the decision was in its favour, and the council would now be conducting a full assessment with their legal team.

While the proposed ballot would be facilitated by the council, Mr Johnson said it was ultimately a federal government process, and the council would be meeting with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to formulate a plan and decide whether the ballot would go ahead.

The BDAC board said they respected the decision of the Federal Court but were in the process of reviewing the decision with their lawyers.

They said while any decisions will only be made after full, informed legal advice, appealing the decision was not off the table.

"At this stage it appears the legal issues are now very narrow and we consider that we will likely appeal the decision.

"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."

A spokesperson for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said consultation remained open for those wishing to make submissions regarding the site selection process.

"We continue to encourage people both for and against the proposal to make their views known by making a submission," the spokesperson said.

"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."