Australian news, and some related international items

Tax-payer forks out $20,000 for Kimba children to have nuclear propaganda trip to Lucas Heights


Federal Government pays for schoolkids from country SA to go on a nuclear fact-finding tour, Erin Jones, Regional Reporter, The Advertiser, 21 June 18

AUSTRALIAN taxpayers are forking out nearly $20,000 to send Kimba school students on an all-expenses paid, five-night excursion to Sydney to learn about radioactive waste.

SA Senator Rex Patrick believes the trip is to “schmooze” families ahead of an August 20 ballot to determine whether the town should host a national nuclear waste facility.

The Federal Government will also gauge community support in Hawker, in the Flinders Ranges, with Wallerberdina Station as the other possible location for the low-level waste facility.

This week’s excursion by 16 students to Adelaide for two nights and then on the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), in the southern Sydney suburb of Lucas Heights, follows a fully-funded trip by 17 Quorn students in April.

Senator Patrick said the money being spent by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science for the trips highlighted the site-selection process being a “sham”.

“My view is that the department … will do everything and anything to improve community sentiment by schmoozing the locals,” the Centre Alliance politician told The Advertiser.

“This is about understanding what will be in their backyard and I’m sympathetic to that effort, but it crosses a line when you move from informing to schmoozing.”

The government dismissed claims the trip was to influence the ballot outcomes and said each community proposed the excursions to educate students on career opportunities.

National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce principal adviser Bruce Wilson said the excursions were for children to get “insights” into the types of jobs in the industry.

“The Kimba Economic Working Group saw the success of the (Quorn) excursion and requested something similar for their area,” Mr Wilson said.

Kimba consultative committee independent convener Allan Suter said some 15,000 people visit ANSTO each year and the students had as much of a right to the opportunity as others, “probably more so given the conversation the community is currently in”.

“This is a school excursion that was endorsed by the school and will assist children to understand both nuclear research and types of jobs that would come alongside a radioactive waste management industry,” Mr Suter said.

“Jobs can be pretty hard to come by in our area.

“These kids are aged between 15 and 18, which is a key time you are thinking about your future career.

“Should Kimba have this facility, we want our kids to be in the best position to work towards jobs created by it, or in the flow-on contracts, or in the research the facility enables.”

An itinerary by school principal Anne Moyle said all flights, travel, accommodation and meals, including a dinner cruise, had been paid for by the department.

As well as the excursion, ANSTO staff have visited the schools to talk about nuclear science and its applications.

ANSTO chief nuclear officer Hef Griffiths said: “We are there to answer questions about what it’s like working at a nuclear facility, how safety is assured, the medicine we produce and why, agricultural research and the like.”

A Senate Inquiry into the government’s site-selection process highlighted landowners, traditional owners, community members, neighbours and stakeholders had all visited ANSTO.

The Advertiser last week revealed a private company said it had support for the nuclear repository to be built in Leonora, in Western Australia.

Minister for Resources Matt Canavan said any landowner was free to nominate a site until the final selection was made however, “the government will not be progressing detailed assessment of other nominations until the results of the votes in the two South Australian communities are known”.

June 22, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, spinbuster

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