Australian news, and some related international items

What next as the Senate rejects the mandatory selection of Napandee as nuclear waste dump?

Minister Pitt insists he is not giving up on the legislation. Expert in radiation impacts Dr Tilman Ruff has recently called out Pitt’s recent declaration of ‘the urgent need of this facility’ in ‘saving lives’ as ‘reckless claims.’  

A new stage in fight against radioactive waste bill, Michele Madigan -17 November 2020

    • ‘We have spent two very productive days at Parliament House speaking about our concerns regarding the proposed Kimba dump site and the Government’s attempts to pass legislation that intentionally takes away our rights to judicial review. Thank you to all of our supporters who helped get us there, this has been a long and expensive fight, but our voices are being heard.’
  • This message from the No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA group (No Rad Waste) Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill 2020 was a good intimation that day to anxious followers that the hoped for blocking in the Senate of the Coalition’s Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill 2020 was indeed going to happen. ACF’s progressive checking of the Senate Agenda had already revealed that the Bill, listed as number 8 on Monday 9/11, had by Tuesday 10/11 slipped to number 23. On Wednesday 11/11 it had disappeared off the list.Did this mean the government, knowing it didn’t have the numbers, had given up on the legislation — at least for the present?Hope was confirmed for sure the next day. An Adelaide Advertiser’s 12th November article heading read: ‘Pauline Hanson’s One Nation torpedoes Kimba nuclear waste dump in SA.’

    The article confirmed ‘The One Nation leader… has confirmed she will not back legislation to build the nuclear waste storage site at Napandee farm, near Kimba.’ The article then went on to explain that ‘Without One Nation’s two crucial votes — and Labor, the Greens, and independent senator Rex Patrick not backing the Bill — the government does not have enough votes for it to pass parliament without changes.’

  •  As Senator Hanson had told The Advertiser reporter, she ‘had serious concerns about the process to select Napandee, the level of community support, the waste site being built on farming land, and the facility storing intermediate radioactive waste above ground.’
  • So in the long journey of nearly five years since the Australianfederal government’s renewed search for a national radioactive waste facility, it seems a new stage has been reached.Here’s a question: did the federal Minister for Resources overreach himself? With the power to simply name the   government’s preferred site, Minister Keith Pitt went a step further by presenting to Parliament the naming of the site.

    This meant that a passing of the government’s Amendment Bill would block off the chances for any opponent group ton take the processes leading to that decision to the courts — no judicial review.

    I wrote of the progress of the bill in the House and later of the Senate Inquiry hearings.In a style reminiscent of recently ex-Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, in the inquiry Labor Senators Carr and Gallacher chose to side  with government in their questioning, comments and final vote.

    However Labor, with their knowledge of community concerns, decided to follow Senator Jenny McAllister’s dissenting report and its unease regarding judicial review. Their resolution was ‘to ask for the amendment of removing the name of the Napandee site with the proviso, “Should our amendment be unsuccessful, we willoppose the Bill in the Senate.”’

    The reasons? ‘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.’ This from the leader of the Opposition in the Senate, SA Senator Penny Wong’s Office to the Josephite SA Reconciliation Circle on 26th October.

    In the meantime, president of No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA Peter Woolford had first heard of the Minister’s Pitt’s long awaited visit to Kimba and the Napandee site via an ABC’s North and West reporter on Tuesday October 27th. The Minister eventually confirmed that four of their group were permitted to meet with him. As well, of course, were meetings with the executive of the pro-dump District Council of Kimba and theWorking for Future pro-dump group.

    ‘A PR box ticking exercise’ was how Woolford named the Minister’s visit with their group. After the event it was harder  to be dispassionate: ‘Pitt and Ramsey (the federal Member) certainly know what we think and the impact it’s had… it certainly got a little heated at times… We had 45 minutes and we raised many issues relating to the doubling handlingof ILW (intermediate-level waste), the vote unfairness, jobs, judicial review etc.’ 

    With three crossbench votes needed in addition to the Greens and Labor to defeat the Bill, the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC), headed by Chair Jason Bilney had long planned to travel to Canberra to meet with legislators.

    COVID restrictions meant that the vital trip was delayed but perhaps providence meant that it took place at just the  right time for the November Senate session. Both key opposition groups have long supported each others’ concerns.

    So with the government unable to get the Senate numbers, what will happen next?

    Minister Pitt insists he is not giving up on the legislation. Expert in radiation impacts Dr Tilman Ruff has recently called out Pitt’s recent declaration of ‘the urgent need of this facility’ in ‘saving lives’ as ‘reckless claims.’

    Independent SA Senator Rex Patrick has long been involved with both BDAC and No Rad Waste groups. The  Advertiser November 12th report above continued with the voice representing the other two of the vital No votes: ‘I  want to make the right decision, not for the interim, I want to make the right decision for future generations,’ Senator Hanson said. ‘I’m not going to be badgered or pushed into this… It’s about looking after thepeople of SA, but also  the whole of Australia.’

    The SA Stock Journal’s September survey recorded 70 per cent of respondents were against the  federal nuclear dump plan. In Aboriginal Way Spring 2020, Karina Lester, Chair of YNTAC, reported  that four Aboriginal groups ‘right across the state’ including the Yankunyjatjara Native Title

    Aboriginal Corporation have ‘submitted their concern.’

    In November, it’s good to hear that South Australians aren’t alone in actively recognising that simply storing above ground, for at least ‘decades,’ nuclear waste that will be radioactive for 10,000 years is a pertinent national issue.

November 19, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics

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