Australian news, and some related international items

Matthew and Meagan Lienert – another declaration of faith in nuclear industry, ANSTO, ARPANSA, DIIS

Matthew and Meagan Lienert (No 53) Submission Senate Inquiry  Re – Inquiry on the selection process for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility at Kimba and Hawker in South Australia

My name is Meagan Lienert and I write to you as a long term resident of Kimba SA. After moving to Kimba 21 years ago as a school teacher, I married Matthew Lienert, a grain and sheep farmer and we own property at Buckleboo (around 38km North of Kimba) and on the Eyre Highway (around 18 km west of Kimba). We also own a local Engineering business in Kimba and I teach at the school part time. We are happy for our submission to be published and also willing to talk further to the committee if necessary.

We feel we have a good knowledge of the area and the people within the local and wider community. We are very passionate and active volunteers supporting many groups and sporting bodies in executive positions or as members, which also allows us to speak to a wide range of ages and groups within the community.

Our support of a site near Kimba for the Low to Intermediate Radioactive Waste Storage Facility has derived from wide research, exploration and listening to a range of views and experts. It was only once we felt assured that this facility would be safe in the immediate and long term future, that we made our decision to support the nominations to move into round 2 of the process.

The community has had a lot of opportunity to find out relevant and accurate information if we have wanted to. We strongly support a fair and transparent process and believe the government have done their best to ensure this over the past 3 years that Kimba has been involved. The following addresses the terms of reference that we believe shows this.

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

The financial compensation that is clearly stated under the Nominations of Land guidelines is appropriate for the search for a location and purchase if the site goes through to stage 3 of the process. It is necessary to be able to provide the landowner with compensation for the possible loss of production, although the amount received would be extremely low in comparison and also to compensate any inconvenience or interruption to the landowner’s practice/business. In addition, these landowners are providing an opportunity of a lifetime to our communities and region and we know that the compensation being offered has no influence on their decision to nominate their land.

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

  1. The definition of ‘broad community support’, and We understand broad community support to be about assessing all the information gathered from a wide range of sources on the views and opinions of the facility moving forward to the next stage of the process. This information as a collective of evidence will then be used to determine if a majority of the community are in support of the facility. We and many others we have asked have never been given a percentage of a vote or types of submissions as a guideline of ‘broad community support’ as claimed by some people. Broad community support must take into account those that will be mostly impacted in any way and should be based on evidence.ii) How ‘broad community support’ has been or will be determined for each process advancement stage; Broad community support is based on a collection of evidence gathered from assessing as much information on the views and reasons for those views. This evidence is from a wide range of groups and individuals including key stakeholders such as neighbours, local businesses including farming enterprises, as well as the local council, relevant local service clubs and also the whole local community. This evidence could be gathered through all of the following combined: formal and informal chats with departmental staff whilst in Kimba; a whole Kimba District council electorate formal vote; written evidence/submissions from key stake holders; and other evidence deemed necessary and relevant by the minister.
  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 understand that the necessary assessments have been and are being carried out in accordance with relevant laws to assess any Native Title Claim or relevant land use applications of the sites nominated in the Kimba area and that these assessments satisfy all necessary laws and requirements to ensure a thorough and appropriate process.

    d) Whether and /or how the Government’s ‘community benefit program’ payments affect broad community and Indigenous community sentiment.

To provide more information in relation to this point of reference we feel it is important to talk about how people have formed their opinions at different stages.

The community benefit program was not something that we found out about until well after the first announcement in our community. Our first thoughts were to find out about the proposed facility, what it was, what it would store, how safe it was and how land around Kimba came to be nominated. We were aware that others in the community seemed to form their decision to be against the proposal for Kimba based on their previous knowledge of the word ‘nuclear’ and based their opinion on evidence from many historical events that had no relevance to such a facility. The negativity that derived from this spread quickly which is often normal in a small community. This was before many people could research the proposal and what it actually meant, especially to receive information from the government which clearly explained the facility and the search for this Australia wide. From our discussions in the community many against at this stage have since found out more and their support is now evident but not always public due to fear of upsetting those against.

Those with an open mind and wanting to know more investigated first then formed their opinion and not without many questions being answered first. The first questions people asked included: Number one was will it be safe for the land and people? What is a waste storage facility? What will be held in it? Why does Australia need a facility?

Our point is that the fact that there was a ‘community benefit program’ was not a major contributing factor for majority of people forming their opinions. Yes the ‘community benefit program’ has been a welcome injection of funds to our community at this stage (as the final decision of allocation of funds is still being made), and it along with other activities in the community over the past 2 years is creating a feeling of hope and a more positive future for Kimba. We are a proactive community working together for continuous improvement but to be able to access funds such as this for a wide range of projects and create other opportunities for a more sustainable future then this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

It is a fact that if and when people are against change in society and other issues, they are the most vocal with the loudest voices and others can fear to be heard. They will also look for reasons why people do not agree with them and in this case the accusation by some that people are bribed and ‘only in it for the money’ is insulting and incorrect.

Therefore, we believe although the community benefit program is a welcome addition to the process we do not believe that people have based their support or non-support on this program.

e) Whether wider (Eyre Peninsula or state-wide) community views should be taken into consideration and, if so, how this is occurring or should be occurring; and If we were to bring any new industry to the local community then we would only talk about it in our community and same should be the case in this situation. It is important to recognise that this facility is safe and will be regulated by ARPANSA with the sole purpose to ensure the facilities safety and protection of the people and the environment. Therefore, with the fact sheets and information from the government, ARPANSA and ANSTO that is accessible to all, there is no reason to be concerned and the decision to either go ahead or stay the same should lie solely with the community in question only.

The local communities directly involved are the ones that have been provided with continuous and accurate facts and information sessions in a variety of ways including written print, face to face discussions, a public presentation, private meetings with members, information sessions with relevant experts, an information session and question and answer from members from France, plus opportunities for Kimba locals to visit ANSTO in Sydney.

A concern has been presented by people against this facility to others on the Eyre Peninsula or wider South Australia, that it could affect the sale of agricultural produce because of the perception of ‘Radioactive’ near our grain or stock producing areas. This is also coming from people who know that the facility is safe and that there will be NO contamination. We believe this promotion of the ‘fear of perception’ has sparked the request to involve the wider Eyre Peninsula in a vote for or against the facility near Kimba.

But our point is that instead of using our time and money on raising a perceived concern about ‘perception’ we could all collectively work together and prove to the wider communities, state and nation as well as the buyers of produce, that the facility will be safe and there is no reason to be concerned or o use the facility to effect prices or sale of produce.

Therefore it has been proven that there will be no negative impact on the Kimba region, Eyre Peninsula or wider and therefore the decision should only be left up to the district council of Kimba. The decision should be left to the people that live here, work here, bring their families up here and that have a true knowledge and care for the community, its people and its future.

f) Any other related matters.

The opportunity that our community has had in this process has been varied. From our perspective it has been very beneficial and extremely positive. It has forced the whole community to look at our current situation, where we have come from over the past, the significant changes for the good and the bad and has also generated a greater interest in the future of the community and how everyone can contribute.

The process is new and different to anything we have been involved with as a community and it has presented each of us with challenges and sometimes confronted our knowledge and past beliefs. But at all stages it has been very open to the public and extremely informative.

Like when change occurs in any workplace, group or community there is some resistance and many questions and this is normal. There is always a mix of opinions and beliefs and people can only base this on the information they want to access and search for. Respect has had to play a large part in this process to respect each other’s opinions and rights to access information in different ways.

In the long term we recognise that all members of the community are doing what they feel is right for the community and based on the facts that we have extensively looked at and the knowledge that we have gained we know that this opportunity if pursued could secure the future of Kimba for many generations.

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

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