Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Senate Nuclear Waste Inquiry gets vague and incomplete answers from Department of Industry

It is difficult to understand why important legislation now before Parliament should include or involve information that cannot be publicly disclosed as this is completely counter to the open and uninhibited nature of parliamentary business and the inquiry committee would at the very least be given a summary of the suppressed information which could then be dealt with by the privileges committee.

If it is being suggested that legal privilege is needed with respect to a judicial review preventing the development of the facility then surely this must be part of the legislative process in dealing with the bill since one of the central issues is eliminating any rights of judicial or administrative review

 

Peter Remta, 13 Aug 20, My comments on some of the written answers by the department to the questions put on notice at the Senate committee hearing on 30 June 2020.

SENATE COMMITTEE INQUIRY – NATIONAL RADIOACTIVE WASTE
MANAGEMENT AMENDMENT (SITE SPECIFICATION, COMMUNITY FUND AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2020

Answer to Question by Senator Hanson-Young:
Question: What does ANSTO understand is the proportion of your waste that would make up what is stored at the Kimba site?
Answer:
As per the Australian Radioactive Waste Management Framework dated April 2018, it is anticipated that the wastes resulting from ANSTO’s operations anticipated that the wastes resulting from ANSTO’s operations and nuclear medicine production will account for approximately 78 per cent* of all wastes that would be managed at the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility(NRWMF).

*This figure is subject to revision as more information becomes available…….

Answers to Questions 4, 5 and 6 by Senators McAllister and Patrick:
From the rather vague and incomplete answers to the specific questions posed by Senator McAllister it appears that the bill for amending the present legislation was hastily put together with little time for proper planning.

It is easier to fully quote the parts of the department’s answer:

Over the life of the program the department has briefed respective Ministers on risks to the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility development associated with judicial review.

On 31 July 2019, the department provided a brief to the former Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, the Hon Matthew Canavan, which also noted the potential to specify a site in the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 (the Act).
On 20 August 2019 the Minister wrote to the Prime Minister seeking amendments to the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 (the Act).

On 21 and 22 August 2019, at community forums in Kimba and Hawker, Minister Canavan indicated that Parliament would have a role in the site selection decision making process.

On 30 September 2019, the Prime Minister responded to the Minister’s letter of 20 August 2019. On 17 October 2019 and on 4 November 2019, the department provided further briefs to the Minister on potential amendments to the Act.

On 8 November 2019, the Minister wrote to the Prime Minister seeking policy authority to develop legislative amendments.

The answer then went on to say that it was the practice not to disclose information about the business of the cabinet and that certain sensitive information contained in some documents to be given to the committee on a confidential basis which would not be in the public interest to reveal and has therefore been redacted

It is difficult to understand why important legislation now before Parliament should include or involve information that cannot be publicly disclosed as this is completely counter to the open and uninhibited nature of parliamentary business and the inquiry committee would at the very least be given a summary of the suppressed information which could then be dealt with by the privileges committee.

If it is being suggested that legal privilege is needed with respect to a judicial review preventing the development of the facility then surely this must be part of the legislative process in dealing with the bill since one of the central issues is eliminating any rights of judicial or administrative review

The forums on 21 and 22 August last year only dealt with ensuring that the government’s grants would be paid direct to the communities and not the state  government as this was a major concern to the members of both communities,

To protect their position Minister Canavan undertook to enshrine the the grants payments to the communities through appropriate legislative action but there was nothing along the lines suggested by the department’s answer.

From the totality of all that has been said or done by the department and ANSTO it is quite clear that they want to pursue their own means of identifying an appropriate site and method for the permanent disposal of the local intermediate level waste.

There is not one mention of the Azark Project at Leonora by any of the government’s entities despite the fact that there were some seven or more months of intense examination and assessment by the department of the Azark site following its nomination at the strong urging by the department.

It is completely inexplicable why the federal government in its different guises does not accept and avail itself of the Azark underground facility which would solve all its problems with one of the best sites in the world for that purpose Added to which and without wishing to be repetitious the Azark Project has the benefit and involvement of some of the world’s leaders in nuclear waste research and engineering which is not emulated locally.

 

August 15, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics

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