Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear waste for Napandee: transport, double handling, safety? Should South Australians get a vote on this?

Jobs, safety and transport in the spotlight in Senate committee probe of Kimba waste plan,  Michelle Etheridge, Regional Reporter, The Advertiser, July 28, 2020

Concerns about maritime workers facing safety risks and the Kimba community losing jobs promised for the local area have been raised before a Senate committee probing plans for a radioactive waste site.

Under the Federal Government’s project, low-level radioactive waste would be stored permanently at farming property Napandee, near Kimba, with intermediate-level waste stored there for several decades.

No long-term plan for intermediate-level waste has been set out – an issue raised by speakers during Tuesday’s committee meeting, which is looking into legislation the government says paves the way for the storage site.

Maritime Union of Australia (SA branch) secretary Jamie Newlyn said the Government should eliminate double-handling of the waste, also citing concerns for Whyalla-based members.

“Whyalla port has been considered … to take nuclear processing waste,” Mr Newlyn said.

“What they’re handling is 130-tonne casks of intermediate-level waste. That presents a massive risk.” A 2018 Federal Government technical report on Napandee said there was potential to ship waste from Port Kembla, NSW, to “port locations such as Whyalla, Port Pirie and Port Lincoln”.

Senator Rex Patrick also questioned whether the 45 long-term jobs promised to Kimba would stay there, now a Australian Radioactive Waste Agency has been announced for Adelaide.

A Kimba Council vote last year found 62 per cent of respondents supported the plan. Traditional landowners voted against it in a separate ballot.

Napandee owner Jeff Baldock said it was “time to accept the decision by the people of Kimba and move forward”.

“(The project) … has the potential to provide a lifeline to our community for decades to come,” Mr Baldock said.

Agriculture would benefit from the plan, he said, through a planned research and development centre.

Mr Baldock said it would also provide a much-needed new industry for the region.

This followed automation in farming and withdrawal of government agencies, which had led to a declining local population.

Wesley Schmidt, of Kimba-based Agsave Merchandise, said opposition to the project was coming from a “vocal minority”.

“We’re currently facing the third year running of drought conditions in Kimba. It’s more important than ever to establish another industry in our district,” he said.

Former Grey MP Barry Wakelin, based in the town, said the area had much to lose from picking up “something that nobody else in Australia wants”.

“Many people have said, why can’t we have an SA vote, at least, about this,” he said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney said: “In the absence of a clear, long-term approach for intermediate level waste, the best place to store this is at ANSTO (Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, in NSW).”

The Senate committee will report back by August 31.

A spokesman for the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency said the Government would consult on transport options with communities near potential routes and transport operators.

“The newly created Australian Radioactive Waste Agency will lead the separate process to site a facility to permanently dispose of Australia’s intermediate level waste,” he said.

He said the 45 jobs included security, administration, environmental monitoring and health and safety roles.

“The facility will need these onsite roles to ensure that the facility is managed safely and securely.”

July 30, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste dump site selection process has made the Barngarla people “aliens in their own country”

Barngarla continue fight against plan to dump nuclear waste on Country,   Barngarla mob say they were not properly consulted by federal government for plans to store radioactive waste on Country at Kimba in SA, and that their concerns continue to be ignored. By Royce Kurmelovs, NITV News   29 July 20

Jeanne Miller smiles as she gets to the punchline of her story.

The 50-year-old Barngarla woman is talking about the enduring connection she has to Kimba when she tells how on the day she was born, her parents had been waiting for an ambulance that never came.

Forced to make their own way to the hospital, she says her mum made it as far as the tree outside before giving birth.

“So I’m born on Country,” she says.

Though she may not live there today, Jeanne says a part of her has never left. It is a detail that underscores the significance of the moment she learned Kimba was being considered as a dump for radioactive waste.

“I used to be a carer for my mum. When I first heard [about the facility], I told her. She goes: ‘no, no, no’ and got angry,” Jeanne says. “She said; ‘we don’t want it there’. She said to me: ‘you got to fight for this. You got to fight for it, we can’t have that place there. It’s a special place for us.’”

Most among the Barngarla have a similar story about the shock and confusion at learning their traditional Country was under consideration as part of a proposal to build a nuclear waste storage facility that would take in samples from 100 sites across the continent.

No one, they say, from the federal government contacted them beforehand to talk about the proposal, leaving most to find out through the news media or word of mouth.

Instead it was up to the Barngarla themselves, through the the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC) to take the initiative and write to the government in April 2017 to find out what was going on.

‘Wasn’t interested in our views’

That first letter would plunge them into a fight that has so far lasted three years, until it entered a new phase in February when former Industry Minister Matt Canavan announced – a day before he resigned – that he had selected a site just outside of Kimba to situate the nuclear waste facility.

The location he chose was called Napandee, a slice of farmland about 25 kilometres west of Kimba. The precise area had been carved out of a 7500-hectare cereal and sheep property owned by the Baldock family and when built the facility promised to create 45 jobs and bring in $31 million to the community.

Over the course of its operating lifetime, the site would house low-to-intermediate level nuclear waste made up of medical waste drawn from 100 sites across the country. This material would include medical waste, but also the more serious TN81 canisters – casks of material once exposed to high levels of radiation that require containment for several hundred years.

If supporters of the proposal celebrated the financial windfall it would bring, critics worried the decision represented the thin end of a wedge that would eventually see the site expand to house higher-level toxic waste.

For the Barngarla people, however, the proposal represented something more significant: yet another decision where they have been overlooked, ignored and overruled in a process they describe as “divide and rule”.

“It’s like the government’s not listening to us,” Jeanne says. “It’s like if the government picks a place where they want to put rubbish like that, they’ll just go and do it and they don’t care what the people think. And that’s wrong. They should be listening to what the people want too.”

“I know there were people in Kimba that wanted it. We definitely know. We got the looks. We didn’t care. I didn’t care. This is something I believe in strongly and that’s why we don’t want it there, because of my strong beliefs and my family’s beliefs.”

After their early efforts to find out more, the Barngarla say they were stonewalled from the very beginning by both the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, and the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA). That stance would become a pattern.

At first it began with the department initially dismissing the possibility that Aboriginal heritage sites may exist in the area and ignoring requests from the Barngarla for a meeting.

It took a year – until February 2020 – before the department offered to meet with the Barngarla people, though by the time the first and only meeting took place the government was already forging ahead to measure community support through a voting process.

In organising the vote, the local council limited those who could participate to ratepayers within the township, and provided a ballot with a single question: “Do you support the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility being located at one of the nominated sites in the community of Kimba?”

Outraged by what they say was a clear act of voter suppression – a strategy common in the US where procedural tactics are used to discourage or prevent people from voting – the Barngarla took their fight to the courts.

They argued that the vote breached the Racial Discrimination Act by excluding the Traditional Owners who were openly opposed to the proposal. The matter would go all the way to the Federal Court, where it was ultimately dismissed on appeal.

Though the court found the local council had not excluded the Barngarla people on the basis of their ethnic identity, BDAC Chairperson Jason Bilney says the court did acknowledge the council had discretion about who to include in the vote, and they had deliberately chosen to exclude native title holders.

They basically created hurdles,” Bilney says. “The catchphrase was ‘rateable property’ – that’s white man’s terms ‘rateable property’. We’re the native title holders. That holds more weight than ‘rateable property’, so we should have been included.”

Around the time the Barngarla filed their lawsuit to challenge the vote, the first meeting with the department took place in August 2018 – a moment Bilney recalls with frustration.

He says Mr Canavan spoke for fifteen minutes before he left, taking all the government representatives with him.

“That’s it,” Bilney says. “He wasn’t interested in our views, he just wanted us to hear what he had to say.”

When the poll of Kimba residents was counted, it returned a result that saw 61.6 per cent of 824 participants vote in favour of the proposal.

BDAC responded by organising is own poll, asking its 209 members the same question that was asked of the broader Kimba residents.

The result would be a unanimous “No” from the 83 participants – a turnout figure explained by cultural and logistical factors that make it difficult to gather in any one place.

The Barngarla delivered the result to the department in November last year on the understanding Mr Canavan had promised to consider them together.

“Canavan said he would put the two together. He never did because if you put the two together there was clearly no broad community support,” says Bilney.

In its submissions to the senate, the department denies it agreed to incorporate the two votes, but says it only agreed to “consider” their outcomes.

Aliens in our own country’

What happens now is up to the Senate economics reference committee and a clutch of Labor, Greens and independent senators.

The Barngarla say the recent approach of the federal government – to legislate the precise location of the site – represents a new twist as it departs from the process established by the Gillard government under the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012.

Worse still, the Barngarla say the provisions of the bill will stymie their rights to seek a judicial review of the minister’s decision in the courts. The Parliamentary joint committee on human rights also raised concerns about the bill in April this year that it says may extinguish Native Title.

“In relation to any cultural and spiritual significance attaching to the land itself, it remains unclear how this would be protected once a radioactive waste facility is operational on the site. Further, it is unclear how Indigenous people will be able to access sites of cultural significance, should they be determined to exist,” the report said.

When NITV News contacted the Australia Radioactive Waste Agency for comment about the process to date, a spokesperson said in a statement the government is seeking to consult with the BDAC going forward.

“Napandee is privately owned, has no Native Title and has been used for agricultural purposes for 80 years. Preliminary assessments have identified no registered cultural heritage at the site,” the spokesperson said.

“Further ground cultural heritage surveys with Traditional Owner consultation are planned, to determine cultural heritage values at the site.

“That said, we have approached the Barngarla through BDAC numerous times during the past years to work together to identify heritage, without resolution.”

In addition, the federal government is seeking to establish a Barngarla economic plan backed by $3 million in government funding, employment opportunities at the site and a cultural heritage management plan.

The Barngarla view this as a bribe when for them it isn’t a matter of money, but one of self-determination concerning what happens on their Country, set against a much deeper history.

So far it has taken two decades for the Barngarla to have their Native Title claim to a 45,000 square kilometre stretch of the Eyre Peninsula recognised by the courts – a process during which they were once informed that they did not exist as a people.

Neither have they forgotten the horror at Maralinga when the British army tested nuclear weapons after falsely declaring there were no Aboriginal people in the area.

To the Barngarla, the government has only decided to talk after the big decisions have been made.

“We’re still flora and fauna to these people,” Bilney says. “They should have included us from the start. We heard about it on the news. We weren’t included in the vote.

“You know, the Barngarla [native title] claim was basically an unwinnable case, they said. It’s taken us 21 years. Twenty-one years to win Native Title under white man’s law. And yet we’re still classed as second-class citizens? Flora and fauna.

“We’re basically aliens in our own Country.”

July 30, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Reflection on Jeff Baldock’s presentation to the Senate Hearing on Napandee Radioactive waste Dump plan

Jeff Baldock is the farmer who is selling a portion of his land near Kimba, for four times its market value, to the Federal Government for the site of a nuclear waste dump. He thinks he is benefiting the local community. He could be right, in that they will be showered by he Fed govt with services and facilities that they SHOULD HAVE GOT ANYWAY, without need of being bribed. Baldock has no concept of the long term effect, and later consequences for South Australia.

He made a brave effort at the hearing, to portray this as a community  benefit. He struggled a bit, but was helped by plenty of “Dorothy Dixer” questions from the Chairman.

Listening to Jeff Badock on the Senate Committee hearings, I am struck by the naivety and ignorance of the man. He really thinks that farming life will go on just the same in Kimba. With the guarded radioactive waste dump, with dirty great trucks under heavy police guard arriving periodically, and with roadworks, and port works at Whyalla, and the whole disruption of the area Probable loss of population, but Baldock expects a new boom in agriculture and population there. Expects big professional jobs there – hell – those will all be in Adelaide, at best – could be Sydney or Canberra!

July 29, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina reviews, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Black lives DO matter, but not apparently, to ANSTO and Australia’s nuclear lobby

The systematic racist behaviour by your Government is a stain on the collective consciousness of this country.’

the Senate Inquiry Committee decided not to hold a hearing in SA. Instead it will be a phone/video hearing — a disappointing decision for those far more at ease in face-to-face meetings even if most of the Senators involved were themselves on video.

Much at stake for Barngarla Country, Country,  Michele Madigan, 28 July 2020

    In the present world wide climate of Black Lives Matter when some governments/states are changing significant processes for the betterment of all, how is our own country fronting up when it comes to competing interests regarding land and culture? ‘Quite badly’ is the assessment that comes to mind in examining Barngarla Peoples’ recent reply to the Department of Resources, the federal department charged by government with the establishment of the national radioactive waste dump/facility (NRWMF).

Their letter of reply, publicly released July 23rd lays it down:

‘As you would likely be aware the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (Human Rights Committee) has confirmed, in their Human Rights Scrutiny Report — Report 4 of April 2020, that the proposal to place a NRWMF at Napandee is a violation of the Barngarla People’s Human Rights. This is clearly the case, given just some of the matters below…?’

The letter goes on to list how, as Traditional Owners, they were refused the right to vote, forcing them to organise their own official ballot with its unanimous ‘no’ vote which was then ‘entirely ignored by the Minister.’

Shamefully, the Barngarla further identify the final determination of government to crush First Nations and any other group seeking to use the democratic processes of the nation: ‘Those terrible failures in process would have been subject to judicial oversight had the Minister made a declaration under section14 of the existing National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 (Cth). However, being fully aware of this, the Minister is now seeking to remove the Barngarla People’s legal rights to judicial review by using Parliament to legislate the location directly.’

Yes, the gloves are certainly off in the long running saga of the federal government’s latest effort to offload the nation’s nuclear waste — this time on Barngarla Country.

The Coalition seems to be banking on the certainty that everyone’s energy about national matters is focused on the Covid-19 emergency. The Guardian reports the plan to rush through new conservation laws even before even Prof. Graeme Samuel’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) final report is written:

‘The EPBC Act Interim Report (released July 21st) ) unsurprisingly includes the reprimand that the federal government’s framework environment legislation ‘reflects an overall culture of tokenism and symbolism, rather than one of genuine inclusion of Indigenous Australians’.

At the same time, with the Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Act 2020 yet to pass the Senate, on 21st July Resources Minister Pitt announced his own kind of pre-emptive strike. His joint media release announced a ‘new agency to safely and securely manage Australia’s radioactive waste’ by the establishment of ‘a dedicated agency’ based in Adelaide which will be ‘responsible for all functions of the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility including engagement with the Kimba community.’

This is notwithstanding that the Senate Inquiry Committee is presently examining the actual issue and so of course Senators have not yet voted on the Bill, which confirms the selection of the Nappanee site in SA’s Kimba, Eyre Peninsula. The Minister’s apparent certainty of the outcome by announcing a ‘dedicated agency’ responsible for the entire matter, seems to take no account of these inconvenient facts. Is the Senate seen as irrelevant?

The bill itself narrowly passed the House of Representatives last month with opposition from Labor, the Greens and most of the Independents to whom it was clear that the rights of the Traditional Owners and other groups similarly opposed had been cast aside. MPs were aware that the process attempts to create a serious precedent. As Dave Sweeney ACF summarises: ‘the Parliament precluding the Courts.’

It is possible to turn around injustice: the Human Rights Committee’s report cited above was unanimous and was endorsed by Liberal and National Party members. With the Senate vote perhaps in September, it is to be hoped that federal Labor with its key South Australian Senators like Penny Wong and Don Farrell will follow the precedent set by their Lower House colleagues.

As well as the Greens, there are those other Senate crossbenchers who support farming communities. In the Kimba district and more widely in SA’s entire Eyre Peninsula, there are food producers disturbed by threats, whether by image or actuality, to their food production — the safety of which is more important than ever in these COVID-19 times.

A week out from the long awaited July 28th public hearing, the Senate Inquiry Committee decided not to hold a hearing in SA. Instead it will be a phone/video hearing — a disappointing decision for those far more at ease in face-to-face meetings even if most of the Senators involved were themselves on video.

But the Barngarla are clear. After refusing the funds offered to ironically ‘support their cultural heritage’ comes their letter’s devastating conclusion: ‘Your email indicates that the Government wants “to form a long term relationship with the Barngarla community based on mutual respect”. This is clearly an insincere statement given the complete violation of our rights to date. …The systematic racist behaviour by your Government is a stain on the collective consciousness of this country.’

There’s a long way to go for the Coalition to change from ‘its business as usual’ performance in this as in many other matters. We can all play our part, however, in encouraging Senators to stop another sizable wind back in the nation’s democratic processes. If the Senate defeats this Radioactive Waste Management Bill then the Barngarla and others can, as in any democratic country, take to court the minister’s processes.

There is much at stake.

July 28, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Notes on Barry Wakelin, speaking to the Senate Inquiry on Napandee nuclear waste dump plan

28 July 20,Barry Wakelin.  from Kimba S.A. :   I  have sent 3 submissions. The issue is of great concern  to the community. The planned radioactive wastes include 3 cubic metres of  Synroc wastes.  The issue is of Intermediate Wastes.  The Napandee plan  – Trying to deal with  something that nobody else wants.
I am concerned at removal of ability for judicial  review. The ILW seems to be a stumbling block.  The abolition of the words “radioactive wastes” in favour of “controlled substances”.   In 30 years time the volume of Intermediate Level Wastes (ILW) is said to be small. But we do not hear about plans for the reduction of nuclear wastes.
Senator Gallacher brought up the subject of  medical radioactive wastes -” we  transport 10,000 doses a week without mishap”
Wakelin.  What is the difference between medical wastes and ILW.  We were advised that without a Kimba dump, nuclear medicine would not be available in Australia.  There are many alternative places for lLW that are not on agricultural land.  The Government’s own adviser says that nuclear waste would be a corporate disaster for BHP.
Sen Gallacher.    In a democracy we must accept the over 50% of Kimba community were supportive
Wakelin.  It was a propaganda war in Kimba. It’s about 0.02 of South Aust community who voted for the dump.  Atually ony 54% of Kimba.  $2 million was put to Kimba before the vote Up to$3 millionn for this little parcel of land. Queensland woud have required  a referendum for such a  decision.
Why couldn’t we have a South Australian vote,as Queensland would have?
The waste facility is not a drought saver.   Put the agricultural revenue beside the  waste revenue, agricultural revenue would be much greater
There has been much support for the movement opposing the waste facility, movement led by Peter Woolford –  400 members  “No Nuclear Waste on Agricultural Land”.  There’s strong feeling across the State.  Our polling shows 70% of South Australians do not want this waste at Kimba .    We’re about not adding risks to risks already for export industry.
When it comes to jobs, it is 45 supposed waste jobs as against 150 jobs in agriculture.
South Australian Premier is quiet  about  this matter. South Australian law  prohibits nuclear waste dumping.  I can’t comment on Liberal Party matters.  I ave been criticised for being  supportive of the plan for a dump at  Woomera.    If you look at the costs, you could do alternatives for ILW.   The best site is not Kimba.  This is a short term plan -at Kimba  – only30 years. That is the government’s present position.  I would support Woomera as the planned site.
 Farmers tend not to look for handouts, not to be bribeable.   We’ve put in money ourselves for the “No” campaign.  The corporate world has offered us not one cent.
Much money from the  tax-payer has been given to the “Yes”  case

July 28, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

A student is suing the government over the financial risks of climate change

‘A wake-up call’: why this student is suing the government over the financial risks of climate change, The Conversation
July 27, 2020  Jacqueline Peel Professor of Environmental and Climate Law, University of Melbourne, Rebekkah Markey-Towler, Research assistant, University of MelbourneAs the world warms, the value of “safe” investments might be at risk from inadequate climate change policies. This prospect is raised by a world-first climate change case, filed in the federal court last week.

Katta O’Donnell – a 23-year-old law student from Melbourne – is suing the Australian government for failing to disclose climate change risks to investors in Australia’s sovereign bonds.

Sovereign bonds involve loans of money from investors to governments for a set period at a fixed interest rate. They’re usually thought to be the safest form of investment. For example, many Australians are invested in sovereign bonds through their superannuation funds.

But as climate change presents major risks to our economy as well as the environment, O’Donnell’s claim is a wake-up call to the government that it can no longer bury its head in the sand when it comes to this vulnerability.

O’Donnell’s arguments

O’Donnell argues Australia’s poor climate policies – ranked among the lowest in the industrialised world – put the economy at risk from climate change. She says climate-related risks should be properly disclosed in information documents to sovereign bond investors.

O’Donnell’s claim alleges that by failing to disclose this information, the federal government breaches its legal duty. It alleges the government has engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, and government officials breached their duty of care and diligence.

This is a standard similar to that owed by Australian company directors. Analysis from leading barristers indicates that directors who fail to consider climate risks could be found liable for breaching their duty of care and diligence.

O’Donnell argues government officials providing information to investors in sovereign bonds should meet the same benchmark.

Climate change as a financial risk….…

July 28, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

Today -public Australian Senate hearings on Kimba nuclear waste plan and changed federal laws

the next Senate hearing into the proposed Kimba radioactive waste plan and the changed federal laws to facilitate this is taking place today.

Try listening -follow the link at this site

Today’s session will hear from supporters of the planned facility as well as critics, including the MUA/Unions SA’s Jamie Newlyn, former federal member Barry Wakelin and myself/ACF.

Details of the program are below and info on how to access the event is available at:

11.00 am Wesley and Lisa Schmidt (Submission 75) 11.30 am Mr Barry Wakelin (Submission 46) 12.00 pm Mr Jeff Baldock (Submission 42) 12.45 pm Australian Conservation Foundation (Submission 97) 1.15 pm Maritime Union of Australia (Submission 19) 1.45 pm Adjournment

July 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Spinbusting the extraordinarily inept nuclear waste media release from 3 Australian MPs.

 27 July 20, On 20th July, MPs Keith Pitt, Rowan Ramsey and Dan van Holst Pellekaan issued a joint media release, which announced the establishment of a new agency in Adelaide to manage Australia’s nuclear waste. The agency was to start that same day (even though they would be advertising for staff and a CEO) .   It was obviously written in a hurry, and raised amazement among those who follow the ongoing drama of the Australian government’s attempt to impose a nuclear waste dump on a rural region.  Amazement at the questions that remain unanswered.

Peter Remta critiques the statement,  and raises some of those embarrassing questions:

The joint media release is inconsistent within itself and with other previous reports and is surely an embarrassment to the two ministers while confirming the long-held partiality of the local member , Rowan Ramsey.

It is badly composed with meaningless statements and lacks any precise reasons and explanations for what should be the creation of a major and nationally important organisation

The establishment by other countries of entities with similar objectives (even though it is hard to ascertain what they are in the case of this new Australian agency) has invariably involved lengthy and detailed planning including the views and suggestions of various members of the community together with commercial interests and other government agencies.

A most pertinent example is the Reset Initiative of the United States of America as to the management of its nuclear waste which was undertaken by the well known Stanford and George Washington Universities which are regarded as world leaders in that field.

The recommendations under the Initiative should have been followed in Australia as they are imperative for the proper and safe management of nuclear waste and it is surprising that none of the submissions or evidence by ANSTO and ARPANSA and also by the Department of Industry Science Energy and Resources made any mentioned of this well-known and internationally recognised study.

It is hoped that ANSTO will not be relying on this rather meaningless and inconsistent release as part of its submission requirements for ARPANSA which in turn should immediately as the regulatory and licensing authority require a full explanation of the reasons behind the release.

ARPANSA must not on this occasion hide behind its licensing independence in refraining from strong comment as the release could be viewed to be an attempt to usurp its status and functions which are recognised internationally,

Announcing this agency before the government has final parliamentary approval smacks of arrogantly taking both
the Senate and ARPANSA for granted

It also shows a cavalier attitude to proper governing to be committing taxpayers’ money before all approvals are in

Even with the vagueness of the release the government should be seriously considering and examining the Azark
Project facility at Leonora which besides being considered as one of the best in the world would overcome or avoid
many of the problems inherent with the Napandee proposal It would also be a major financial saving for the government

Why has there not been any previous mention of this new agency?

How will it manage Australia’s radioactive waste?

How will it bring together this responsibility and expertise since it seems currently to be lacking the expertise and from past experience the responsibility?

“The Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) will be based in Adelaide and be responsible for all functions of the
National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (the Facility), including engagement with the Kimba community.”

Why will it be located in Adelaide which has no history of competence or knowledge in this area despite the Scarce
Royal Commission and uranium mining in South Australia ?

How will it engage with the Kimba community and in what respect since it seems that the battle lines are well and truly
drawn in a seriously divided community.

Will it be replacing ANSTO as the operator of the facility at Napandee?

How will the new agency develop Australia’s radioactive waste management solutions and capabilities as neither the
government nor ANSTO has any realistic knowledge in this area?

Is not this another instance of rushed planning without a proper understanding and consideration of the factors
including the regulatory regime?

Will it not be an unnecessary duplication of the existing functions of ANSTO?

Is the agency going to assume or usurp some of the functions of ARPANSA in the regulatory context?

How will the agency’s location in Adelaide enhance the operations at Napandee as it was understood that this had
already been established through prior planning?

July 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Parts of Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula, Melbourne suburbs, at risk from sea level rise

important for local communities to know whether they were at risk so they could decide whether to invest in adaptation strategies, such as infrastructure, to protect the coastline, or simply retreat from the danger zone.

July 27, 2020 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Victoria | Leave a comment

Despite Minerals Council lobbying, Australia’s Environmental Law prohibits nuclear and limits uranium mining

K-A Garlick, Nuclear Free WA, 22 July 20, This week, the interim report of the review into the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act – Australia’s federal environmental laws was released. This found that the Federal government should maintain the capacity to intervene in uranium mining and that there be no change to the existing prohibition on nuclear activities, including domestic nuclear power.

Environment groups have given a cautious welcome to this continuation of the status quo, especially in the face of lobbying by the Mineral Council of Australia to weaken nuclear protections and scrutiny. This outcome is a tribute to the efforts of those who have worked hard over years to highlight the deep community concerns with the nuclear industry.

While no amount of regulation can make uranium mining socially or environmentally acceptable, it can reduce the impacts.  The reports sensible approach means it is now incumbent on both State and Federal government to ensure the highest standards or rigour, transparency and public interest.

The nuclear power ban has been retained despite years of concerted effort by the Mineral Council of Australia and pro-nuclear lobbyists to have this removed. Again, this is testimony to the power, importance and effectiveness of sustained community advocacy and action.

In future updates, there will be more information on further developments and action to take, but in the meantime zip over to the excellent resource page, Don’t Nuke the Climate, Australia for all information and myth-busting to keep sharing that nuclear power cannot solve the climate crisis.  Click on website link

July 25, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Australian govt trying to keep its $1.3bn arms purchase a secret, a dangerous precedent

Coalition says making public parts of $1.3bn Thales arms deal audit would penalise weapons company

Australian government claims disclosure would damage chances of multinational Thales to sell Hawkei combat vehicle to other countries,  Guardian  Christopher Knaus,    The Australian government is arguing parts of an audit of a $1.3bn arms purchase must be kept secret because a multinational weapons company Thales would have trouble selling its product if they were disclosed.But the administrative appeals tribunal has heard that such an argument if allowed to stand would have a “devastating effect” on the auditor general’s ability to transparently and publicly criticise other government purchases.

The tribunal is hearing a case between the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and crossbench senator Rex Patrick, who is fighting through freedom of information for full release of a 2018 audit report examining the government’s acquisition of the $1.3bn Hawkei combat vehicle fleet from French-based manufacturer Thales.

After representations from Thales, the attorney general, Christian Porter, made an extraordinary and largely unprecedented intervention to redact sections of the audit on the grounds they unfairly prejudiced Thales’s commercial interests and threatened Australia’s national security and defence.

The Guardian has since revealed the redacted material included a cost-comparison suggesting that Australia could have saved money by purchasing a different vehicle – the joint light tactical vehicle – from the United States…….

July 25, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia should join regional nations in signing and ratifying the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)

Push to join nuclear weapons banm Daryl Le Cornu, Member of the board of ICAN Australia 22 July 20, It was good to read William Stoltz’s ‘‘How Australia can help the world avoid nuclear war’’ (July 17) about the diplomatic initiative to push for a treaty of no-first-use based on the Chinese model.

His argument that Australia may be the only country that could lobby the US to agree to the principle of no-first-use has merit.
Furthermore, Stoltz argues that it is only through the ‘‘strength of principled examples and ambitious diplomacy that responsible nations can hope to make the legacy of Trinity and the nuclear threat to civilisation a thing of the past’’.

However, there is another potentially more effective ‘‘ambitious diplomacy’’ that Australia could pursue. This would be to join with the majority of the nations in the world and a majority of the people in the world in signing and ratifying the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) that was created at the United Nations on July 7, 2017.

New Zealand has already done so, as have most of our regional neighbours. The Labor Party at its December 2018 national conference committed a future Labor government to such a diplomatic initiative. Furthermore, the organisation whose 10-year global campaign led to the creation of the TPNW – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) – was born in Australia in 2007 and launched by former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who became ICAN’s first patron. With only 10 more ratifications for the TPNW to come intoforce in international law, it is surprising that Stoltz did not devote some time in his article reflecting on the 75th anniversary of the Trinity test to this citizen-initiated global campaign.


July 23, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hasty new nuclear dump agency will have some overseas staff, – and law for waste dump is not yet passed!

Nuclear dump to be managed from SA,, Tim Dornin, 22 July 20

Staff from around Australia and possibly overseas will be recruited for a new government agency to manage a nuclear waste dump in South Australia.

The Australian Radioactive Waste Agency will have about 35 staff in Adelaide, with a satellite office at Kimba, near where the waste repository will be built on a farming property.
The agency will also be involved in the design and construction of the new facility, which will store low-level nuclear material, mostly used in nuclear medicine.

Legislation to establish the dump has already passed federal parliament’s lower house and is before a Senate committee after the location was selected earlier this year.

The Napandee property on Eyre Peninsula was chosen after an exhaustive process lasting four years with community concerns eventually ruling out alternative locations in SA.

Resources Minister Keith Pitt said the establishment of the new agency was another step forward in what had been a very long-running process to develop a vitally important facility.

“Two in every three Australians will use nuclear medicine and that means two of every three Australians will produce some low-level radioactive waste that needs to be stored and managed,” he said.

“This is a national piece of infrastructure that is critical for all of those individuals.”

Mr Pitt said ARWA would operate as an independent agency with staff to be drawn from around Australia and possibly around the world to secure those with the right skill set.

But the Australian Conservation Foundation said the government had jumped the gun, establishing the new agency when legislation for the dump was still before the parliament.

“It is absurd to establish a new federal agency for a proposal that is still under active Senate review and has no current legislative basis,” campaigner Dave Sweeney said.

“This initiative has all the hallmarks of a tailor-made political fix for a federal plan that has no broad social licence.”

When the Napandee site was chosen, owner Jeff Baldock welcomed the plan and urged the government to move forward.

He said it was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure Kimba’s future” and the waste facility would potentially provide jobs and much-needed revenue for the region.

“It’s very rare that a small country community gets the chance to guarantee that it’s still going to be here in 300 years’ time,” he said.

July 23, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Hasty and crummy pro nuclear media release from Messrs Pitt, Ramsey and Van Holst Pellekaan

Peter Remta, 22 July 2020.  Here we go again.

This is a very poorly and hastily planned and quite ill-conceived attempt to deflect from the true situation with the proposed facility at Napandee which only shows up the incompetence and lack of knowledge within the federal government as to the management of nuclear waste 

The joint media release is inconsistent within itself and with other previous reports and is surely an embarrassment to the two ministers while confirming the long-held partiality of the local member It is hoped that ANSTO will not be relying on this quite meaningless release as part of its licensing submission requirements for ARPANSA which in turn should immediately as the regulatory and licensing authority require a full explanation of the reasons behind the release 

ARPANSA must not on this occasion hide behind its licensing independence in refraining from strong comment as the release could be viewed to be an attempt to usurp its status and functions 

I will separately comment on the different parts of the release


July 22, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

South Australian Government must oppose the Federal government’s nuclear waste dump

Friends of the Earth, 21 July 20, Today’s announcement by federal resources minister Keith Pitt that a new ‘Australian Radioactive Waste Agency’ will be established and located in Adelaide is the latest move by the federal government to impose a national nuclear waste dump in SA. The Agency will be responsible for all functions of the proposed nuclear ‘facility’

including engagement with the Kimba community.

Dr. Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, said: “‘Locating the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency in Adelaide is a cynical attempt to present the strongly contested nuclear waste dump as a done deal.

“The imposition of a nuclear waste dump is a clear breach of the SA Nuclear Waste Facility (Prohibitions) Act, legislation introduced by Liberal Premier John Olsen and strengthened by Premier Mike Rann. Yet current SA Premier Steven Marshall and energy and mining minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan support the proposed nuclear dump. That support should be reversed.”

“van Holst Pellekaan falsely claims that Kimba has ‘clearly’ expressed its willingness to be the host community. In fact, a narrow majority supported the facility, and that narrow support was won with a multi-year, multi-million-dollar federal government PR campaign including the fictitious claim that 45 local jobs will be created.

“A majority of South Australians oppose the proposed nuclear dump and there has been no consultation let alone consent along transport corridors. Barngarla Traditional Owners were excluded from the Kimba ballot and their separate ballot found unanimous opposition.

“If the results of the Barngarla ballot are included with the ballot of local Kimba residents (and out-of-town ratepayers), the overall level of support falls to just 43.8% of eligible voters (452/824 for the Kimba ballot, and 0/209 for the Barngarla ballot). That is well short of a majority and a long way short of the government’s 65% benchmark for ‘broad community support’,” Dr. Green said.

Prof. Graeme Samuel’s EPBC Interim Report released yesterday noted that the federal government’s framework environment legislation “reflects an overall culture of tokenism and symbolism, rather than one of genuine inclusion of Indigenous Australians”.

An April 2020 report by Federal Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights noted that planned changes to the National Radioactive Waste Management Act, currently the subject of a Senate inquiry, do not sufficiently protect the Barngarla’s rights and interests. The Committee found “there is a significant risk that the specification of this site will not fully protect the right to culture and self-determination”. Importantly, the Human Rights Committee’s report was unanimous and was endorsed by Liberal and National Party members.

Dr. Green said: “Shamefully, the Federal Government has acknowledged that its proposed changes to the National Radioactive Waste Management Act will deny Barngarla Traditional Owners, farmers and other interested parties a right to a judicial review of the proposed nuclear waste facility; indeed, it appears that the purpose of the legislation is to do just that.

“Prof. Samuel’s EPBC Review and the Coalition and Labor members of the federal parliament’s Human Rights Committee have found that the rights of Traditional Owners need to be strengthened, yet Premier Marshall and Minister van Holst Pellekaan are supporting the imposition of a nuclear waste dump unanimously opposed by Barngarla Traditional Owners. Their crude racism diminishes all South Australians and must be resisted,” Dr. Green concluded.

The SA Labor Party argues that Traditional Owners should have a right of veto over nuclear projects given the tragic history of the nuclear industry in South Australia. Deputy Leader of the Opposition Susan Close said that SA Labor is “utterly opposed” to the “appalling” process which led to the announcement regarding the Kimba site. The SA ALP State Conference in Oct. 2018 endorsed a resolution supporting Traditional Owners “in their current struggle to prevent a nuclear waste facility being constructed in their region.”

July 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment