Australian news, and some related international items

Kimba farmers Darren and Kellie Hunt deplore the Australian government’s flawed process for selection of nuclear waste dump site


We are farmers in the Buckleboo district of Kimba, where we live with our three young children. We are both active members of the Kimba community and have been dismayed at the ongoing division and stress this proposal had caused amongst community members.

We feel the process that has brought us to this situation has been flawed and unfair, and we thank the Senate for their willingness to consider this issue.

Concerns we have include the lack of definition of what constitutes Broad Community Support, the use of financial incentive to coerce the community and the lack of consideration given to the potential implications to our agricultural industry.

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

Clearly, the landholders who have volunteered their land are the only persons to directly and personally benefit from this proposal. We understand that they will receive 4 time the value of their land for the section that is acquired, however it has not been made clear exactly how this value will be determined. Also, we understand that the nominators are receiving compensation for access to their land during the site evaluation phase, however information on the value of these payments have been kept from the public. If this process is to be ‘fair and transparent’ as the Department have insisted it is, we believe that this information should be available to the community.

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 ii) How broad community support has been or will be determined for each process advancement stage

  1. One of our greatest concerns regarding this process has been Ministers refusal to clearly define the term “broad community support’. As arguably the most important aspect in finding a suitable site, and certainly the biggest hurdle the Government have faced in their bids to date to do so, the unwillingness to clearly explain what they consider both ‘Broad’ and “Community” has created confusion and caused an escalating lack of trust towards the Minister and the process. It is very apparent that the reasoning behind the lack of clear definition is to allow the Minister to effectively ‘move the goal posts’, as was clearly evident when Kimba was accepted to phase two following our June 2017 vote.
  2. Having stated in the senate that he would require a number in the vicinity of 65% of the community voting to progress with the proposal, Minister Canavan chose to push Kimba into phase two of the process with a supporting vote of 57%. This result is subjective to the number of people who chose to participate in the vote, in actual fact those in support represented 49.94% of those within the community eligible to vote.One of the reasons the Minister given for his refusal to quantify broad community support is to enable him to accept opinions given from those who are ineligible to vote, via submissions. Prior to the June vote, 396 submissions were received both from the community and outside. The phase 1 summary report states that of the 112 local submission 86% were opposed. The remaining 294 submission were not given consideration in the report. Despite these results, Minister Canavan determined that broad community support existed in Kimba to progress the proposal to phase 2

We do not feel that Kimba should have continued to phase two after the vote as there was no clear indication of broad community support, merely proof that our community so divided in opinion on this issue. We believe strong consideration should be given to who has the right to vote, and if we are to continue to a further ballot, a definitive number must be provided prior as to what percentage of the overall community must be supportive for the proposal to progress. We believe this should be at least an absolute majority of 67% (of all eligible voters)

  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;We feel that the traditional land owners must be consulted and heard in this decision making process. We have not been aware of any consideration given to the Bungala people in the Kimba process at this stage.
  1. Whether and/or how the Governments community benefit program payment affect broad community and Indigenous community sentiment;The community benefits program was not a part of the initial package, and was announced prior to the 2017 Kimba vote, labelled ‘disruption money’. Clearly, the Minister was aware that this process has caused stress and division within communities, and felt that additional financial incentive would help to garner support. Unfortunately, no amount of ‘compensation’ can repair the damage that has been done and the division that we are forced to face on a daily basis.

f) Any other related matters.

We strongly believe that the facility is not suitable for Agricultural land. The storage of nuclear waste in a food growing region in a country which had as much un-arable land as ours makes no sense. The perception of the proximity of the nations nuclear waste to our productive land has the potential to adversely impact our commodity prices and land values and these are unacceptable risks to our business.

Clearly consideration has been given to potential impacts on agriculture as the draft ARPANSA’s Code for Disposal of Solid Radioactive Waste selection criteria includes ‘The immediate vicinity of the facility has no known significant resources, including potentially valuable mineral deposits, and which has little or no potential for agriculture or outdoor recreational use’.

This process has caused immeasurable contention and division within our town. The Department has upheld that they are running a fair and transparent process, and that everyone’s opinions are valid and will be respected. However, they have clearly put much effort into convincing those opposed to change their views. On a recent trip to Lucas Heights Selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia Submission 80 (fully taxpayer funded and clearly orchestrated to demonstrate the safety of the facility) I was asked by our Community Liaison Officer if “we have managed to change your mind yet, now that you know there is nothing to fear”. This clearly sums up the objective of the department’s current presence in Kimba and the interest they are taking in our concern

June 15, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: