Australian news, and some related international items

Australian government’s Nuclear Waste Bill – divisive, undemocratic and racist processes

Divisive campaign on South Australian facility highlights urgent need for long term nuclear waste management plan, Croakey, 6 Nov 20,

Tilman Ruff writes:   Radioactive waste production and management need a sound evidence-based plan, not shoddy and racist imposition based on misguided nuclear ambition.

On Tuesday 6 October, under the cover of the Federal Budget, the Government planned to introduce controversial amendments to laws on radioactive waste management in the Senate.

The amendments were dropped from the Senate list the following day, only to reappear the following day, the last sitting day for this parliamentary session. They were ultimately not tabled, for reasons unstated, but most likely because the government was concerned it did not have the numbers to pass them.

The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill 2020 seeks to confirm the siting of a national radioactive waste facility near Kimba in regional South Australia. It would also remove any legal right to review this decision.

These laws were opposed by Labor, minor party and independent members when they passed in the lower house in June, and remain actively contested in Parliament and more so in the community.

Nonetheless $103.6 million was allocated in the budget over the next four years for the planned radioactive waste dump at Kimba, a clear sign the government remains committed to this flawed legislation, which is again scheduled to be debated in the Senate next week.

The radioactive waste management plans it would lock in deserve greater public scrutiny than they have received to date…………

Divisive, undemocratic and racist processes

The government campaign to persuade the residents of Kimba to accept a radioactive waste dump has been misleading and divisive, with much inaccurate information about risks and benefits, inflated employment promises, and very poor process to assess genuine community views.

The people selected to vote on this proposal (with shifting and nebulous goalposts) were town-based, excluding many farmers who actually live closer to the site than those in Kimba township. The local community has become divided.

Crucially, despite multiple requests, Barngarla Native Title holders were explicitly excluded from the government’s community ballot, and remain actively opposed to the planned waste facility. The Barngarla people unsuccessfully attempted to have their exclusion from the consultation process struck down in the Federal Court in March on the grounds that it contravened the Racial Discrimination Act.

When the Barngarla people commissioned a survey themselves, 100 percent of those surveyed were opposed. Nonetheless the process has proceeded, despite government promises that Aboriginal views would be taken into account.

Minister Pitt visited Kimba for the first time in months on 3 November. His media release thanking the Kimba community and chronicling his meetings with the mayor, proposed waste site landowner and various local organisations mentions Barngarla people not once.

Removing the right to legal review

The clear and unacceptable rationale of the proposed amendments are to remove the right of legal challenge to the choice of a national radioactive waste facility near Kimba.

Minister Pitt already has the power under the existing National Radioactive Waste Management Act (2012) to advance the planned Kimba facility, however this would be subject to legal review.

The right to independent legal recourse is a fundamental principle of our democracy and should not be jettisoned without compelling reasons – especially on an issue with such significant long-term implications and impacts as radioactive waste.

To remove the right to judicial review for affected people is unfair, unnecessary and unjustified. It violates the rights of Aboriginal people. ………..

November 7, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics

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