Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Senator Hanson-Young outlined the shambles that the nuclear waste siting process has been

This bill is a disgrace. It is an affront to community consultation, it is an affront to the best available science  and it is an affront to the promise, the long-held promise, that this country would get serious about a long-term  permanent solution to dealing with the waste that we have. Of course we have a responsibility. We create nuclear  waste; we need to store it properly. It is of course incredibly toxic. That’s why it is difficult to do. It is also why  you don’t see the Prime Minister advocating that they build a nuclear waste dump in his electorate, where Lucas  Heights actually is.

This bill is a disgrace. It is an affront to community consultation, it is an affront to the best available science  and it is an affront to the promise, the long-held promise, that this country would get serious about a long-term  permanent solution to dealing with the waste that we have. Of course we have a responsibility. We create nuclear  waste; we need to store it properly. It is of course incredibly toxic. That’s why it is difficult to do. It is also why  you don’t see the Prime Minister advocating that they build a nuclear waste dump in his electorate, where Lucas  Heights actually is.

This has been a disgraceful process, and still the South Australian community are left in the dark. How is this  going to be transported? How often are we going to have trucks and ships full of nuclear waste coming into our  state, coming into our towns? What are the people of Whyalla meant to do—not to mention the towns and  communities where this dump is built?

We’re not going to. We’re going to fight this. We want a proper process. We want independent expert advice,  not special favours from national ministers, and we want our state’s reputation for having a clean, green, food,  wine and tourism industry protected. It’s only the Greens who are standing up for this in our state of South  Australia. 

HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) Senate 21 June 21, (12:28): I rise today to speak on the National Radioactive  Waste Managemn Greens and my constituents in South Australia, who, of course, are outraged that once again we  see the two big parties working together to dump on our state.

This is an example of what happens when Labor  and Liberal get together: they’ve got more votes on the eastern seaboard than they do in South Australia, so they  dump on SA. That’s what they’re doing here today. 

South Australians are frustrated at this debate. It’s gone on for so long. They’re frustrated that, every time,  rather than putting in the work and coming up with permanent solutions, Labor and Liberal gang up together to  decide: ‘We don’t want the nuclear waste in our backyards, so we’ll stick it in South Australia. We’ll stick it in  communities that don’t want it.’ 

This process has been a shambles from the beginning. The consultation process in relation to these three listed  sites has been a debacle, mishandled over and over again. There have been different ministers in charge over time,  and, every time you get a new minister, you get new promises, only for them to be broken, and consultations that  are rubbish, and the locals in South Australia get ignored once more. And what are we seeing today? Right now,  as we’re debating and voting on this legislation, we are seeing another rolling of leaders in the National Party.  First of all, when Senator Canavan was in charge of this portfolio, he didn’t care about where the waste went as  long as it wasn’t in his backyard in Queensland. ‘Let’s just dump on SA.’ Then we had Mr Pitt. What did he do?  ‘Just dump on SA.’ And you can bet your bottom dollar Mr Barnaby Joyce will do the exact same thing. Just like  he wants to take all of South Australia’s water, he thinks that we should have all the country’s nuclear waste as  well—not our Deputy Prime Minister, I’ll have you know. 

This bill is a disgrace. It is an affront to community consultation, it is an affront to the best available science  and it is an affront to the promise, the long-held promise, that this country would get serious about a long-term  permanent solution to dealing with the waste that we have. Of course we have a responsibility. We create nuclear  waste; we need to store it properly. It is of course incredibly toxic. That’s why it is difficult to do. It is also why  you don’t see the Prime Minister advocating that they build a nuclear waste dump in his electorate, where Lucas  Heights actually is. Oh no, you couldn’t have it in the Prime Minister’s backyard! You’ve got to dump it in South  Australia instead. Actually, the safest place to keep it, as the scientists have told us over and over again in the  various inquiries that have been undertaken, is to leave it where it is, and, for the intermediate waste, that would  be in the Prime Minister’s backyard—in the shire, at Lucas Heights. But, of course, that’s not what we’re debating  today, because the big parties and the big states think it’s all very cute and easy to dump on little ol’ South  Australia. 

As I mentioned at the outset, the consultation process that led up to this piece of legislation has been a debacle,  an insult. If you want to run a community consultation, this is not the way to do it. The First Nations communities  in all three of these selected sites have been treated appallingly. Thankfully, one of the amendments that is going  to be moved is to at least restore some type of judicial review, because the process has been so bad. In their  incompetence, the ministers under the National Party that have been managing this for a number of years now  have treated the local South Australian First Nations communities terribly.  

We were first told, in relation to the proposals to build a national nuclear waste dump, that this would be just  for low-level waste. ‘Don’t worry, we’ll put this facility in the outback where no-one will really notice. It’ll be low  level. It doesn’t matter. Let’s run a process to consult. It doesn’t really matter what the response is; we’ll still do it.  We’ll pay you off, too—millions of dollars.’ Of course, as this process has gone on, it’s now been acknowledged  that it’s not going to store just low-level nuclear waste. This is actually going to be storing—for a temporary  period of 100 years!—intermediate-level waste, above ground. 

…….. now we have intermediate-level waste tacked onto this proposal—not permanently stored; it will be above  ground—and no-one knows what will happen next. To anyone who wants to stand in this place today and argue that it doesn’t matter, that this is all about low-level  waste—the type you find in basements in hospitals—I would say, that is just not true, because part of this  proposal has now morphed into storing intermediate-level waste. And the best available science—world practice,  international standards—says that this should not be happening, that you shouldn’t be double-handling this level of  waste in this manner. This is all because the government has been dragging its feet on establishing a properly  independent and expert inquiry about the whole nuclear cycle in Australia that would give proper advice as to  what to do with the more toxic and dangerous intermediate-level waste. But of course that hasn’t happened, so 

International experts have warned Australia that this is not okay. International bodies have said that this is not  best practice. Yet there is no plan from this government as to what to do with it. We all know what happens in  these situations. You get approval for the project as it is now, you don’t consult properly and you pay off the  communities, hoping they’ll forget and hoping everyone else will forget, too. Well, we won’t forget. South  Australians are sick and tired of being dumped on like this by the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the Nationals and  the big states on the eastern seaboard. 

If you wanted to do best practice, if you wanted to follow the science in relation to this, you’d put in place a  proper plan for dealing with this intermediate waste. Yet that is just not happening. The other issue in relation to  all this is: how is this dangerous toxic stuff going to get to South Australia in the first place? It’s going to be driven  on our roads, in big trucks, and shipped from Lucas Heights, in the Prime Minister’s backyard, all the way around  and into South Australia. And we’re going to be doing that on boats. It’s going to be loaded on and off in South  Australia’s port towns. But of course no-one in Whyalla, no-one in Port Augusta and no-one in Port Pirie has been  consulted about having this toxic stuff arrive on their front doorstep. There’s been no proper community  consultation. No safety plan has been discussed as to how this toxic and dangerous waste is going to be  transported to any of these three sites.

This has been a disgraceful process, and still the South Australian community are left in the dark. How is this  going to be transported? How often are we going to have trucks and ships full of nuclear waste coming into our  state, coming into our towns? What are the people of Whyalla meant to do—not to mention the towns and  communities where this dump is built? One of the sites listed by the government in this piece of legislation, in  their amendment, is in the heart of the Flinders Ranges—a jewel in the crown of our state. The Flinders Ranges  are spectacular. They are beautiful—nature at its very finest. They are loved by South Australians. They are loved  by the local First Nations people. They are loved by people right around the world, because of their special and  unique characteristics. And today we’re voting on a piece of legislation that suggests that this government could  build a waste dump in the heart of the Flinders Ranges. And what do we see? Labor voting with the government.  It’s just a disgrace. 

If it doesn’t go to the Flinders Ranges, the other site is close to Kimba, in some of South Australia’s best, finest,  prime agricultural land. What happens with the product that’s created and grown out there? It’s shipped overseas,  exported, with a superb reputation of being clean and green. Senators and members of parliament from  Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria don’t give two hoots about the reputation of South Australia’s grain  industry, our clean food and wine industry and our pristine environment. No, they don’t want a dump in their  backyard. Well, South Australians don’t want it either, especially when you haven’t even bothered to put in the  legwork to run a proper process, to follow best available science, to do world’s best practice. You just want a tick  and flick, done, done, done—like the revolving door of the leadership of the National Party.  

It’s no surprise that the ministers—minister after minister after minister—responsible for this debacle have all  been ministers of the National Party. They’re far more interested in their own jobs, far more interested in being at  the top of their party’s ticket, far more interested in being Deputy Prime Minister than they are about making sure  we handle this toxic and dangerous waste properly. Mr Joyce doesn’t give two hoots about what happens to this  waste, as long as it’s not in his backyard. The Prime Minister, whose electorate is right where this nuclear waste is  created, doesn’t want it there—surprise, surprise!—so dump it in South Australia and everyone will forget about  it.  

We’re not going to. We’re going to fight this. We want a proper process. We want independent expert advice,  not special favours from national ministers, and we want our state’s reputation for having a clean, green, food,  wine and tourism industry protected. It’s only the Greens who are standing up for this in our state of South  Australia. 

June 28, 2021 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics

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