Australian news, and some related international items

Bob Tulloch dissects Australian govt’s nuclear waste dump “community consultation” and finds it dishonest.

It is an easier proposition, supported by the legal framework, to work with small, isolated    and vulnerable communities that can be easily manipulated, than to conduct an open an transparent site selection process that engages the broader community. 

The constant vernacular of the whole siting process is deliberately ambiguous. For example the  use of the phrase ‘65% not opposed’, is often perceived as 65% of the community support the  facility.

Is the Barndioota Consultative Committee just a rubber stamp for the Dept’s attempt         to manufacture community consent?  
There has been a constant flow of incentives handed out by the Dept, to the Indigenous and non  Indigenous communities.
Through out the site selection process our communities have had to endure the Government’s  disregard of community dissent and resulting social division by an unjust, unbalanced process. 

Bob Tulloch to Senate Standing Committee on Economics  Submission for ‐ The selection process for a national radioactive waste  management facility in South Australia  (Submission No. 87)   

My name is Bob Tulloch and I have resided in the Flinders Ranges area for over 40 years. I am a  self employed business person and together with my partner Sue, operated the successful Bush  Bakery at Copley for 20 years which developed into an iconic tourist destination.  I acknowledge  the need for a national repository, but oppose and question the Government’s rationale, to  establish a repository in one of Australia’s major tourist destinations, the Flinders Ranges.
The subject of this submission focuses on the apparent aim by the Department of  Industry,  Innovation and Science (the Dept.) to change the current boundaries, in an attempt to  manipulate the outcome of the next community survey, that will be used to determine ‘broad  community support’ for a facility to be established at the Barndioota site. This submission also  focuses on the use of incentives to target local Indigenous community votes, the questionable  distribution of community grants, provides examples of miss leading information  and in doing  so, covers the following terms of reference;

b) How the need for ‘broad community support’ has played and will continue to play a part      in the process,  c) How any need for Indigenous support has played and will continue to play a part in the      process,  d) Whether and/or how the Government’s ‘community benefit program’ payments affect       broad community and Indigenous community sentiment;  e) Any other related issues. 
 To understand the Dept’s current situation, you first need to look at previous attempts to  establish a radioactive waste facility in Australia.     Since 1995, 30 sites and 8 regional areas have been selected for a national radioactive waste  site. Of these sites 71% have been located within South Australia.  Billa Kallina, an area of 67,000 km2 located around Woomera in South Australia, has been  proven to be the most stable geological area within Australia to site a nuclear waste repository.  All attempts to establish a depository in South Australia have failed, mainly through State  Government and community opposition. The Dept would be well aware of the entrenched public  opposition to nuclear facilities in South Australia, a fact supported by the results of the 2016  South Australian Royal Commission.
Angela Morsley accurately sums up the current site selection process in the summary to her  paper titled; Protecting Authority, Burying Dissent: An Analysis of Australian Nuclear Waste  Law.
‘This paper considers the Australian legal framework for a national nuclear waste repository in the context  of the Commonwealth government’s preference for a controversial site located near Barndioota, in South  Australia’s Flinders Ranges.’ Her paper argues that, ‘the current law protects the Commonwealth’s decision‐making in relation to a repository site, but at the expense of matters important to the public  interest, and with the consequence that the siting process is inherently compromised.’  With a long list of failures to their credit, the Dept would be under increasing pressure to justify  their current funding ($43m over 3 years), and could well explain the Dept’s expedient attitude  in the current site selection process for a national facility.
 • It is an easier proposition, supported by the legal framework, to work with small, isolated    and vulnerable communities that can be easily manipulated, than to conduct an open an transparent site selection process that engages the broader community.
b)  Broad community support   
Current designated boundaries   The definition of community and the selection process of the original boundaries used in the first  community sentiment survey, conducted by Orima Research, are well defined in the Orima  Survey Report of Findings April 2016 page 89, and in the Dept’s National Radioactive Waste  Management Facility Phase 1 Summary Report page 8 to 10.  The designated area being a 50km radius around the Barndioota site, plus the remaining area  within the Flinders Ranges Council boundary.
The Orima community sentiment survey  As reported in the Orima Survey Report of Findings April 2016, results of the Barndioota  community sentiment survey (to advance to stage two only) published in table 24 page 58, list  results by region.  These are as follows;
   Quorn Region         57% not opposed        Base size  106                          Hawker Region      84%  not opposed        Base size   38                          Other (Cradock )   100% not opposed       Base size     2                                                              65%                                                 146
Note; the result of 65% not opposed refers only to the number of the survey respondents. (146)  The claim of ‘broad community support’ is detailed in the NRWMF Phase 1 Report, page 10,  section 4.1.1: ‘The Department’s engagements across the consultation period suggest that overall there  is broad community support, particularly in the townships of Hawker and Quorn, for moving into the next  stage of the process. This was reflected in the general community survey which estimated that around 65  per cent of those surveyed did not oppose moving to Phase 2.’ Also stated in section 4.1.4 of the same  report;  ‘ 50 per cent either support or strongly support continuing with the process to the detailed  planning stage.’
The constant vernacular of the whole siting process is deliberately ambiguous. For example the  use of the phrase ‘65% not opposed’, is often perceived as 65% of the community support the  facility. Also the statement that appears in the Executive Summary of the above report, page 1,  ‘The Government has stated that it will not impose a repository on an unwilling community, noting no  individual or group has a right of veto.’ In the context of a small community, what does this really  mean?.
A community survey conducted by concerned residents  Due to a rising level of frustration over the biased and often miss leading information supplied  by the Dept, local community members formed the Flinders Local Action Group (FLAG) in an  attempt to include a more balanced view point into the process. Surprised and confused over  the Orima survey result, FLAG conducted a survey in November 2016 of the Hawker and Quorn  communities. The survey simply asked the question; ‘Do you want a nuclear waste facility  established in the Flinders Ranges?,’  a choice of;  Yes, No, Undecided. The FLAG survey, not a  professional production, and despite some limitations, returned the following results;
         ( Yes )                 ( No)  Results of the FLAG survey         not opposed         opposed       undecided       Quorn Region                                   11%                     86%                3%         Base size  91       Hawker & Cradock Region             31%                     64%                5%         Base size  39                                                                   17%                     79%                4%                         130                                                                             (copy of the FLAG survey is attached in appendixes)
The percentage of respondents opposed to the facility, appears to mirror similar results returned  by the second Citizens Jury of the South Australian Royal Commission.                                                                    A copy of the FLAG survey was sent to Minister Matt Canavan in December 2016.   Whether criticism of the Orima survey combined with the results of the FLAG survey, prompted  the Dept to review the designated boundaries, is unknown.    Aim by the Dept. to change the current designated boundaries  The process to alter the current designated boundaries used in the Orima survey, commenced at  the Barndioota Consultative Committee (BCC) meeting held on the 9th February 2017.  Committee members where asked to provide input about what will constitute community  support, and how it will be assessed. (Ref. Time Frame of Events attached in Appendix )
 According to the meeting notes, this topic was again revisited at the BCC meeting held on the  27th of June 2017 when Professor Peta Ashworth from the Queensland University was  contracted by the Dept to facilitate the discussion on ‘Defining Community’. It was at this  meeting the idea of removing the Quorn community from the site selection process and  reducing the designated boundaries to the area of the old Hawker District Council, were first  introduced.
Maps detailing three options were tabled by the Dept at this meeting. A BCC member requested  the maps shown during the meeting be provided to members via email.
 At the August 22nd meeting of the BCC, as per the meeting notes, Bruce McCleary from the Dept  (General Manager, Radioactive Waste Management Facility – Task Force) gave a presentation on  the reasons for ensuring the BCC undertakes a discussion on ‘defining the community’.   ‘The definition of community for the project is important to define. The BCC will need to start  firming on what the definition will be, as this definition will be used in a vote to determine  whether the facility will go ahead.’
  BCC meeting10th October 2017.  To quote from the meeting notes; ‘Professor Peta Ashworth led a  discussion to further consider the definition of community for the area. Professor Ashworth developed a  report based on the previous discussion around community definition during the BCC meeting on June 27.
The discussion ended with suggestion from multiple members that the area should be defined as a 50 km  radius around the site, as well as the old Hawker Local Council area. However, no decision has been  made.’
 When members of the Dept’s task force have been approached regarding the proposed  boundary changes, they have maintained that the discussion has been instigated by BCC  members.  The Barndioota Consultative Committee has no power in the decision making  process. (refer to BCC guide lines) Meeting agendas and notes are set and written by the Dept to  reflect the Dept’s point of view.
• Is the Barndioota Consultative Committee just a rubber stamp for the Dept’s attempt         to manufacture community consent?
At the time of writing this submission no decision has been made on the proposed boundary  changes. If the option to remove the Quorn community from the final survey was to be  adopted, it would decrease the total community involvement by  65% while at the same time,  significantly increasing the value of the, not opposed vote, from the Hawker region. Does this  represent an open and transparent community consultation process or the manipulation of  statistics to achieve a desired outcome?
 • I believe the above process, could allow the Dept to reduce voter input, while         appearing, to maintain ‘broad community support’.
c)  Indigenous support
Viliwarinha Aboriginal Community involvement
Maintaining the current level of support from the Hawker community and achieving majority  support from the Viliwarinha Aboriginal Community, would provide the Dept with a significant  increase of ‘broad community support’ for the project.
 As reported in the Orima Survey Report of Findings April 2016, Section D. Indigenous Survey,  page 104, under the heading; Sample type and size; ‘In Barndioota, when the interviewing  commenced the interviewers were informed that many relevant respondents did not reside (or reside  permanently) in the area, but felt they had a significant attachment to the area. It was decided on the  basis of this feedback during the fieldwork process that if a respondent had a significant attachment to  the area they were eligible for inclusion in the survey, and interviews were conducted both face‐to‐face  and by telephone as possible with identified respondents.’  Only 4 out of the 77 respondents resided within the designated area.
As early as February 2016 the Viliwarinha Yura Aboriginal Corporation (VYAC) were the first to  start a publicity campaign in opposition to the facility and launched a successful media campaign  that gained wide publicity across Australia. (Ref. Time Frame of Events attached in Appendix )
  • The Viliwarinha appeared to be a united group. Even the results of the Orima Indigenous  Survey (April 2016) supported this, showing a result of 3% not opposed from 77  respondents.
By May 2017, the circumstance had dramatically changed. The Dept published an article in their  newsletter, Issue No. 9,  26th May 2017, that stated;  ‘at a recent special meeting VYAC held a ballot for the project and 85% of members that voted  were in favor.’ It was reported by people attending this meeting that there were approx 28  people at the meeting, but several people left prior to the vote being conducted.
 Prior to this special meeting, the VYAC signed a contract with the Dept of Industry, Innovation  and Science for the Provision of Professional Advice. Contract period 30th May 2017 to 30th  June 2018, Contract mount $122,100.00
 Use of incentives to target local Indigenous community votes  The first use of incentives in the site selection process is recorded in the above, mentioned Indigenous Survey report on page 105. ‘A small incentive in the form of a supermarket voucher was  given to all respondents.’
Stated in the NRWMF Phase 1 Summary Report, are offers from the Dept to contribute to the  development of a Heritage Management Plan and to work with local Indigenous stakeholders to  explore eco‐tourism opportunities in the area. To quote the report, ‘ The Department would work  closely with the local Indigenous community to ensure its needs are met through this process.’
There has been a constant flow of incentives handed out by the Dept, to the Indigenous and non  Indigenous communities. To list just a few;
 • All expenses paid trips to Lucas heights for families and friends or anyone else wishing to go,  • Paid positions on Advisory Boards that are virtually ineffective (total spending on three  boards $460,654),
 • Offers to fly Adnyamathanha members to visit the Aube Nuclear Waste Facility in France.
 • Promises of 15 full time jobs and training ( The Dept can not supply further details),
 • Support to Aboriginal netball and football teams
 • Community grants funding to the amount of $652,397 distributed to Viliwarinha and  Yartawarli Aboriginal Corporations for community projects.
• As most of the Viliwarinha community (101 membership as of June 2017) live outside the        designated boundary, but have ties to country, enables the Dept to increase selected voter        input whilst decreasing the designated boundary.
 d)  Community benefit program payments   Distribution of community grants   The results published by the Dept in the BCC meeting notes 9th February 2017 could be viewed   as incentives, in an attempt to manipulate the outcome of the next community survey, when  collated under the following grant groupings.
$725,262   (36.4%)   6 grants to community development projects within the Hawker township,  $652,397   (32.7%)   2 grants to Viliwarinha and Yartawarli Aboriginal community projects,   $611,357   (30.6%)   2 grants to private businesses located at Hawker   $5,800        (0.3%)    1 grants to other – Friends of the Heysen Trail
The idea behind the community benefit program was to compensate communities for their  involvement in the site selection process. Judging from the above grant distribution figures, only  selected portions of the Barndioota community are receiving compensation.
  f)  Any other related matters   Examples of misleading information 
Example 1  On the  4th of May 2018 an Industry Expo was conducted at Hawker.  This was advertised as a  community event to showcase Hawker’s industry capability and to assist  local community and  businesses to better prepare for the potential arrival of the NRWMF.  The event was very poorly  attended, and when this issue was raised in discussion with the Dept’s Project Team Manager  who attended the event, it was stated that the Dept had no active role in the event, as it had  been  organized by the Wallerberdina Economic Working Group. It was later revealed by  members of the Dept’s Project Team and event management staff, that in fact, it had been  organised by Dept staff. Although this seems a trivial point, it is a telling example of the  contemptuous attitude  displayed by the Dept’s representatives towards our communities  through out this site selection process.
 Example 2   
 At a dinner held on the evening of the Hawker Expo for invited guests, the Dept made the  sudden announcement that there would be an extra 30 jobs available at the proposed NRWMF  taking the total to 45 jobs. This being a direct result of the Government‘s decision, made a week   or so prior to the event, to include the storage of Intermediate level waste (ILW) at the proposed  NRWMF.  A representative from ANSTO, also present at the dinner, assured the guests that a  facility not catering for ILW would be an unviable economic situation for Hawker and it was a  good thing for Hawker that it was to be included.
 Through out the site selection process the inclusion of ILW to be store at the proposed facility  has been deliberately downplayed, with more emphasis  being directed at the disposal of low  level waste  (LLW) coming from hospitals as a result from the use nuclear medicines.  The long  term storage of ILW at the NRWMF has always been the Governments preferred business case.  Reference to this is clearly laid out in an ANSTO document  titled;  SUMMARY OF THE SAFETY  CASE FOR THE INTERIM WASTE  STORE A THE LHSTC, March 2013.  page 14 ;
 ‘ The Government is currently assessing the siting and construction of the NRWMF, collocated  near surface disposal repository for Low Level Waste (LLW) and an above ground store for  Intermediate Level Waste (ILW). The NRWMF will cater for the long term above ground storage  (approximately 100 years) of Intermediate Level Waste including the waste reprocessed in France  and the United Kingdom.’
The storage of ILW at the proposed NRWMF is referred to on page  4, 12, 15 and three times on  page 14.  The above document IWS‐SC‐LA‐SCS forms part of the Interim Waste Store Siting and  Construction License Application to ARPANSA.
 Is this just another case of miss information handed out by the Department of Industry,  Innovation and Science or has ANSTO provided misleading information to ARPANSA in their   License application documents.?
Conclusion  Through out the site selection process our communities have had to endure the Government’s  disregard of community dissent and resulting social division by an unjust, unbalanced process.  One constant, has been the reassurance, repeatedly given by the Government, ‘that a facility will  not be imposed on an unwilling community’, and the Government will require ‘broad community  support’, to proceed the selection process past Stage 2’.
We have been led to believe that our communities, at the end of the day, will be given the  opportunity to engage in a democratic and transparent vote, to make the ultimate decision, for  or against a facility to be established in our area.
Now we are again, witnessing the erosion of these reassurances. According to Senator Matt  Canavan, this may not be as straight forward as we have been led to believe. In the recent  Question Paper to the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Dec 2017, Senator Rex  Patrick asked Senator Canavan the following question.
 Q. 5g.  Will the community be asked directly whether they support the presence of a National                Radioactive Waste Management Facility:         i,    if not, why not;       ii,   if so, what is the accepted go, no‐go criteria that will be used
  Senator Canavan’s  response:
 Yes.  There will be a variety of factors to be considered in deciding to proceed with any             particular site, including broad community support. A final decision will not be based             solely around a specific percentage of supportive votes.
   ƒ If or when the Government decide to abandon the Barndioota site selection process,         who is going to help repair the social train wreck, inflicted upon our communities by an          uncompassionate and unjust Government process ?
Appendixes attached to this submission
1    Flinders Local Action Group (FLAG)         Community Survey Report    December 2016
 2    Time Frame of Events; Site selection process for a NRWMF at Barndioota, Hawker          Nov 2015 to Dec 2017 Complied by Bob Tulloch

June 20, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump

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