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Ellenor Day is concerned about conflict of interest in nuclear waste site volunteered by Grant Chapman

Ellenor Day SUBMISSION TO AUSTRALIAN SENATE REGARDING THE: Selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia  (Submission No. 67)

I am writing as a resident of Quorn, South Australia, in regards to the proposed national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia. I have lived in the region for 8 years and have recently built a home with my husband in Quorn. While I disagree with having a radioactive waste management facility in South Australia altogether, my submission is only regarding the selection of Barndioota as a possible site, as I have not been part of the consultation process for Kimba.

The government has stated that it will not impose such a facility on an unwilling community. However, the methods of consultation upon which their statements about a broad level of community support are based, are flawed. Below are my thoughts and opinions in the context of the Terms of Reference provided:

a) the financial compensation offered to applicants for the acquisition of land under the Nominations of Land Guidelines;

My concerns are not about the compensation offered to land-owners, however in the case of the Barndioota site, the site is co-owned by an ex-Federal Senator Grant Chapman, who served on various Committees relating to this industry. This does call into question whether Mr Chapman had prior knowledge of plans to build a facility of this nature. There was no consultation with neighbours at that time which I find quite astounding.

b) how the need for ‘broad community support’ has played and will continue to play a part in the process, including:

i) the definition of ‘broad community support’, and

Broad community support is a somewhat ambiguous term, and the basis for which the government is stating they have broad community support for Barndioota is flawed. Please see below for details.

  1. how ‘broad community support’ has been or will be determined for each process advancement stage; In this section, I refer to this report: Community%20Sentiment%20Surveys%20Report.pdf

My concerns begin with the Australian government’s sample size used to make the statement that “The nomination at Barndioota in South Australia demonstrated strong overall support (65 per cent of those surveyed) for moving ahead to Phase 2”.

They phoned 228 people, 59 refused to be surveyed and contact couldn’t be made with a further 56. So 113 households were surveyed, and in total 146 responses were received. That is just 146 people out of an estimated 1671 population for the Flinders Ranges Council area at that time (Refer to ABS Statistics for detail). On that basis, the “strong support” is based on just 95 people (or 5.7% expressed as a percentage of the total Flinders Ranges Council population).

The total responses included 38 people from Hawker and 106 from Quorn (as well as 2 from other areas around Barndioota). Neighbours, Indigenous people and Businesses were apparently surveyed separately, so these are not included in the 65% statistic I’m talking about.

In their own document, the government said there is a high margin of error for consultations around the Barndioota site. Even they got confused, because on one page they say it was +/-10% and on another page they said it was +/-9%.

In the initial survey report, just 3% of Indigenous people surveyed supported the Nuclear Waste Facility. 65% of Neighbours either Strongly Opposed or Opposed.

  1. how any need for Indigenous support has played and will continue to play a part in the process, including how Indigenous support has been or will be determined for each process advancement stage;

In the initial survey report, just 3% of Indigenous people surveyed supported the Nuclear Waste Facility (from a sample of 77 people). The consultation process should have stopped then and there and an alternative site should have been explored for the Nuclear Waste Facility.

After many years working with Aboriginal communities, I would also suggest that while clearly some Aboriginal people support the proposal, they are not representative of all Aboriginal people in the region. In the same way that my opinion is not representative of all non-Aboriginal people in the region, it’s important to recognise there are many voices and they are all important.

  1. whether and/or how the Government’s ‘community benefit program’ payments affect broad community and Indigenous community sentiment;

I do not have strong opinions about the Community Benefit program, however, it is clearly a ‘sweetener’ to encourage the community to get on board and support the Nuclear Waste Facility. Additionally, the job advertisement for the local Community Liaison Officer was very marketing and promotion focused rather than being targeted towards real, meaningful community engagement

e) whether wider (Eyre Peninsular or state-wide) community views should be taken into consideration and, if so, how this is occurring or should be occurring; and

For info, there is no ‘r’ in Peninsula.

I don’t believe in state-wide views being taken into consideration, because I fear that city-based South Australians, as well as populations south of Adelaide, will not care what happens in our region. It is so far away from their homes, their families and their lives. People living in our region, however, are living this issue and it has divided communities. This facility has the potential to impact on our lives, our businesses, and the prosperity of our region, given the Flinders Ranges is one of SA’s greatest tourism destinations.

Community views should be sought from people located in and around the proposed sites. I strongly believe this includes, for the Barndioota site – Hawker, Quorn, Cradock and Port Augusta. Some consideration also needs to be given to landowners and businesses located north of Hawker. I think Port Augusta opinions are important, as if such a facility is built in the region, tourism businesses in Port Augusta may also suffer as a result and

I think Port Augusta people have a right to have a say in that too. Notably, many people in the Port Augusta community have connections to Hawker and Quorn and regularly visit the area for tourism, recreation and to visit family.

The marketing of information sessions for the community has been extremely poor and, as a result, I believe there have been some low attendance numbers. I attended a session for business owners in late 2017 in Quorn and there was only a handful of business representatives there because of a lack of advertising. In fact, I only found out about the session by accident as I saw something on Facebook the day before and sought out further information. At this session, I asked if any economic analysis/data modelling had been completed to provide evidence of the proposed benefits and was told that this had not yet been done. How, after two years, is this possible this had not yet been done? A whole department is dedicated to this process – yet meaningful data has still not been gathered (nor has meaningful consultation been undertaken to obtain statistically significant data on community opinions).

I provided my contact details and business card at that session I attended to ensure I didn’t miss out on any further information. Yet I have not ever heard from anyone from the department since. As a result, I missed the last meeting they held in Quorn recently because I was out of town.

I would like to see meaningful community engagement in any further efforts to gather community views. You can’t just put a poster on the community noticeboard and tell the committee to tell their friends – that is not adequate community consultation.

f) any other related matters. I have noted some submissions published on the website so far are from members of the Barndioota Consultative Committee (BCC) who are paid allowances to sit on that committee. In considering all submissions, I think it’s important that the Standing Committee are advised who are currently being paid by the government for this purpose and who are independent community members. I appreciate that the BCC committee members deserve to have their say as part of this process – the same as all of us – but I think transparency in this case is very important.

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

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