Native title holders on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula have lost a court bid in their continuing fight to stop the federal government establishing a nuclear waste dump near Kimba.
The government recently named a site on a farming property as the location for the dump which will take Australia's low to medium-level nuclear waste material.
The government's decision was informed in part by a ballot of local residents which supported the proposal.
But the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation, the native title holders of the region, argued that their 200-strong community had been unfairly excluded from the ballot on their basis of the Aborgininality.
They appealed to the Full Court of the Federal Court against a single judge's decision to uphold the District Council of Kimba's earlier move.
But the full court dismissed their appeal on Friday.
"It is not correct to say that BDAC's members were excluded from the ballot," the court ruled.
"Membership of BDAC was not a characteristic that disqualified any person from the franchise. Rather, the effect of the resolutions was that possession of native title rights and interests was not included among the various qualifying criteria."
The court found the original decision by a single judge was correct in that it concluded that anyone who fulfilled one of 14 criteria could take part in the vote, irrespective of a person's race.
"Similarly, the classes of persons who were excluded from the franchise included persons who were Aboriginal and persons who were not," the appeal judges said.
In his argument, counsel for the Barngarla, Daniel O'Gorman SC, had told the court that their request to take part in the ballot should have been granted.
"This was a ballot of the community, the Kimba community. They are the native title holders of the land surrounding the sites in question," he said.
"Therefore, we submit, they clearly had an interest in the ballot, they clearly had an interest in the dump and whether it goes ahead or not.
"Their mere standing as native title holders, warranted them being included as part of the community."
The ballot ultimately returned about 62 per cent support for the dump, which then Resources Minister Matt Canavan accepted as broad community backing.
Those still opposed to the dump going ahead include some locals, environmental groups as well as indigenous communities.
Legislation to allow construction of the waste facility is before the federal parliament.
The underpinning laws allow for acquisition of land for the facility as well as a $20 million payment for the community to help establish and maintain the site, which is expected to operate for at least 100 years.
Australian Associated Press