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Eddie Hughes MP- Nuclear Waste Dump Site Selection Process is Deeply Flawed

Eddie Hughes  Submission to Senate Inquiry on Nuclear Waste Dump Sit Selection Process  (Submission No. 57 My name is Eddie Hughes and I am the State Member for Giles. Please accept the speech I gave in Parliament on the 31 May 2017 as my submission for the Senate Inquiry into “The selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia”.

I believe that the selection process is deeply flawed as a result of being based on an individual site nomination process.


Mr HUGHES ( Giles ) ( 15:23 ): I rise today to talk about the process that is on the way to determine whether a facility to accommodate domestic nuclear waste is built in South Australia. It is very strange, given the vastness of the Australian continent and, indeed, the concentration of nuclear expertise at Lucas Heights, that the only three sites being considered are all in the electorate of Giles. The reason all the sites are in Giles does not reflect any particular set of comparative advantages.

What it does reflect is a fundamentally flawed site selection process. It is a site selection process that has little regard for the impact on the communities that have been put in the spotlight and a site selection process that has absolutely no regard for the division that has been created.

Let me be clear: we do need to manage our domestically-produced waste in a responsible fashion. The adoption of such a divisive process does not, however, represent a responsible approach. The trigger for the engagement process is at the heart of why this is a seriously flawed approach. If you look at Kimba and the surrounding district, and if you look at Hawker and its district, you will see the division that has been caused. The trigger for the Flinders Ranges site was totally centred on the action of one person. That person does not live in the region; he lives in Adelaide. He is an absentee landlord. This absentee landlord nominated Wallerberdina Station which is under a pastoral lease. The absentee landlord is Grant Chapman, a former Liberal Party Senator.

The process adopted by the Federal Government did not call for communities to nominate a site; it called for individuals with land tenure to nominate sites, a bizarre approach which then left communities to react. The absentee landlord did not consult with his neighbours prior to nominating his property. I understand that he did not discuss his intention with neighbouring pastoralists and he did not consult with the local Aboriginal people, some of whom live on the adjoining property at Yappala Station. I spent a night at Yappala, listening to the concerns expressed by the residents. They were shocked by the nomination and the arrogance of the absentee landlord. We now know that the presence of Aboriginal people in the Flinders Ranges dates back 40,000 years. They are not blow-ins, they are not absentee landlords, they have lived and walked the country for generations.

The nomination of Wallerberdina was marked and will always be marked by a complete lack of respect for the Adnyamathanha. The absentee landlord did not speak to his neighbours, neighbours whose connection to the land he obviously has no appreciation of. We are not all that far from terra nullius. His neighbours were invisible. The nomination and the ongoing process has generated division not just in the European community but also in the Aboriginal community. The nomination process in Kimba also centred on the actions of individuals and has also led to community division. In the lead-up to the Federal election, the people of Kimba were under the impression that the two sites nominated near Kimba had been taken off the table, only to magically reappear after the election.

Most of the waste generated comes from the Eastern States. Lucas Heights can easily accommodate the long-lived intermediate waste for decades to come. That is where the expertise is and that is  where the more serious waste is generated. When it comes to that waste and other waste streams, we have ample time to get this right, and a starting point at a national level is to initiate a roundtable process involving all the various interests, including non-government environmental bodies. We have an obligation to do this properly and we can build a consensus about our long-term management of nuclear waste. What has happened to date should become a case study in how not to do it.

May 11, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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