Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy and SOS Blak Australia Sydney boycotted the march, claiming the Aboriginal community didn’t support the nuclear movement.
“The group Nuclear For Climate Change has been allowed to take part in the People’s Climate March in Sydney. This is a complete contradiction to the climate change movement,” read a statement from the two groups, issued on social media.
“Also during the consultation with Aboriginal community members and Elders it was expressed on more than one occasion in more than one meeting that the Aboriginal community does not support ANY nuclear movement and would not be involved or aligned with such groups.
“There are currently plans to dump nuclear waste and mine uranium from traditional lands which also is connected to forced community closures. We do however strongly support the Anti Nuclear Movement!”
In response, the organisers of the People’s Climate March Sydney issued an apology and clarified their anti-nuclear position.
“We’re truly sorry for any role we played in the miscommunication of various issues over the past few weeks,” read the statement from the organising committee.
“There was absolutely no intention to hurt or offend anyone and we strive to stand with Indigenous people in the fight to protect their land and communities.”
In their apology, organisers also made it very clear that the march was in support of renewable energy, not nuclear.
“Members of the organising committee for the People’s Climate March unequivocally oppose nuclear power as a ‘solution’ to climate change, and acknowledge that nuclear power in Australia is dependent on the dispossession of Aboriginal people from their land,” they said.
But, they added, they did not have the power to prevent people from coming to a public march.
All that controversy didn’t stop the pro-nuclear groups from turning up to the rally.
Rob Parker from the Australian Nuclear Association told BuzzFeed News that his group was at the march to try and alleviate fears about nuclear energy.
He suggested the boycott by the indigenous groups could have been influenced by other green groups.
“I am aware that there were people within a political organisation who weren’t keen on this, who may have mobilised some of those people,” he said. “So you have to be very careful of who’s pulling the strings in these things.”
The federal government is currently trying to find a site to dump radioactive medical waste, after a long-running plan to establish a facility at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory fell through when there was opposition from traditional owners.
Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg has released a shortlist of six other potential sites that could be the first nuclear dump site in Australia.