Government continues support for Maralinga

Joint media release with the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP, and the Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey MP.

The Government will invest $2.5 million to support Traditional Owner aspirations and ensure the ongoing health and safety of people and the environment at Maralinga, South Australia.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the funding carries on our commitment to keep Maralinga safe for Traditional Owners and other visitors, including tourists.

“In addition to preserving ongoing funding for monitoring and maintenance activities, it will support new investigations into the extent and condition of debris fields at the site,” Minister Pitt said.

“Debris fields are a legacy of Maralinga’s previous land use and contain old equipment, vehicles, asbestos and building material.

“The site investigations will better map these debris fields, and be used to determine if any further remediation is necessary and also provide long-term certainty to support the economic development of the Anangu Traditional Aboriginal Owners of the Maralinga Tjarutja Lands,” Minister Pitt said.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, said that supporting local communities to tell shared histories is an important step towards truth telling and better understanding of our past.

“This local empowerment will ensure that the local community has a direct say in the future of their community, while continuing to explore and share stories from our past.”

Sharon Yendall, General Manager of Maralinga Tjarutja Lands, confirmed tours of Maralinga would restart from late-July 2020. Tours were suspended in March due to COVID-19.

“Tours are an initiative of Traditional Owners. We are looking forward to welcoming tourists back to learn about Maralinga’s central role in what is a dark chapter of Australia’s history, and to share the stories of the Anangu peoples in and around Maralinga,” she said.

Rowan Ramsey, the Member for Grey which encompasses the Maralinga site, said the investment was a great support for the growing tourism prospects in the area.

“Over recent years there has been a real increase in the number of people who want to visit the sites where British bombs were detonated and the village where the workers lived,” Mr Ramsey said.

“The recent documentary and fictionalised accounts of the times on the ABC will further raise interest and that will create local jobs for the indigenous owners, which is a very exciting prospect.”

In addition to preserving ongoing funding for monitoring and maintenance activities, it will support new investigations into the extent and condition of debris fields at the site.

The site investigations will better map these debris fields, and be used to determine if any further remediation is necessary.

Maralinga was used as a nuclear test site between 1953 and 1964 and was rehabilitated in the late-1990s. Under the 2009 Maralinga Nuclear Test Site Handback Deed, the Australian Government will continue to monitor the site to assess the ongoing effectiveness of the rehabilitation work and, if necessary, take remedial action.

The Government will also provide one-off funding to instal a permanent facility at Maralinga Village as accommodation for the current, and any future, Maralinga caretakers.

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