Australian news, and some related international items

Labor aims to amend the Nuclear Waste Bill, removing Napandee as the stipulated dump site

Penny Wong office reply to Josephite SA Reconciliation Circle letter before the last Senate session  27 October 2020 
From: “Wong, Penelope (Senator)” <>

Subject: RE: We plead with Labor Senators to vote NO to the undemocratic, unfair National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill 2020
Date: 26 October 2020

Dear Michele,

Thank you for your correspondence on the proposal for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia and the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020.
Senator Wong is aware of different views in the community about this proposed facility.
It is clear the Government’s proposal gives rise to issues surrounding Indigenous heritage, environmental concerns, public safety, as well as differing opinions on necessity of such a facility, all of which must be adequately resolved.
Australians depend on nuclear technology for medicines used in the diagnosis of heart disease, skeletal injuries, as well as a range of cancers. Radioactive substances and wastes must be handled safely and with care.
One effect of the Bill would be to amend the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 to set aside the existing site selection and approval process, and instead specify the site selected and enable the acquisition of additional land for the facility.
On 11 June 2020, the Bill passed the House of Representatives. As you noted, Labor opposed the Bill in the House. As you are aware, the Senate Economics Legislation Committee completed an inquiry into the Bill, and now it is up to the Government to decide when this bill will be debated in the Senate. Senator Wong followed the progress of the committee inquiry, in which Labor senators actively participated. We are pleased to see that you quoted from Labor senator Jenny McAllister’s dissenting report in your correspondence.
Senator Wong encouraged members of the South Australian community to engage with the Senate Economics Legislation Committee inquiry in order to ensure committee members and parliamentarians more broadly are aware of community attitudes. Along with consultation that has taken place with stakeholders, as well as community views expressed to Labor parliamentarians in community meetings and through organised petitions and campaign emails, this informed Shadow Cabinet and Caucus as they finalised Labor’s position on the legislation.
Labor has decided move an amendment to the legislation in the Senate that will remove the section of the Bill that nominates the site at Napandee, near Kimba, as the location of the national radioactive waste management facility, whilst maintaining the Community Fund established in the Bill for whatever community eventually hosts the site. Should our amendment be unsuccessful, we will oppose the Bill in the Senate.
Labor’s proposed course of action does not prevent the Government from nominating the site under the existing legal process, something it could do today. However, retaining the existing process ensures this significant decision will be subject to judicial review so that the community can be assured the decision about where to locate the facility was reached as a result of a fair and properly conducted process. This is something we are aware that the representatives of the Barngarla People have expressed is particularly important to them.
Ten years ago, Federal Labor deliberately amended the current legislation to include judicial review so that an affected party could challenge a decision made by the relevant minister. This is a contentious issue and should have the highest levels of scrutiny to ensure that the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice have been applied given the national significance of this matter.
Thank you again for your correspondence.
Yours sincerely,
Dear Senator Penny Wong,
We plead with Labor Senators, especially with yourself as Opposition Leader in the Senate, to vote NO, as Labor did in the House, to the undemocratic, unfair National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill 2020 coming before the Senate this Tuesday, October 6th.
In the years of this federal Coalition campaign there have been many unfair practices and processes in the government’s determination to achieve the SA siting above ground of long lived intermediate level radioactive waste –  toxic for an unimaginable 10,000 years – alongside low level radioactive waste.    
It was clear in recent Senate Inquiry that the federal government are taking this site decision to Parliament to deny judicial process to anyone. In particular, the Traditional Owners, the Barngarla people who fought for 21 years to obtain their native title rights have been excluded from having any say over on their traditional lands. The federal government plan is now to ensure they as well as anyone else will excluded from judicial process. Labor Senator Jenny MacAllister’s dissenting report is clear:“In evidence to the committee, the Department confirmed that the effect of the change proposed in the legislation is to remove the requirements for procedural fairness in the selection of the site.”
This dangerous precedent of no judicial review will be set if the Senate passed this Bill. This is not the Australia that we want – and we would expect not what federal Labor wants. 
SA State Labor have spoken up strongly against this legislation. Senator Jenny McAllister’s dissenting report recommends “That the elements of the National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 which alter the existing process for site selection not proceed at this time.”
We plead with federal Labor Senators to avoid this extremely concerning circumvention of judicial process by voting against this Bill.
Yours sincerely,
Michele Madigan
 Josephite SA Reconciliation Circle

October 27, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics

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