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The federal nuclear dump is a national issue

  • 22 September 2020
It may have taken five years but in the last session of the recently completed Senate Inquiry, finally a government department bureaucrat has used the phrase — ‘…it is a national issue.’

Well certainly — 'When it suits,' one might respond. This is because the federal nuclear dump has never been a national issue from a government perspective when it has come to the right to have a say about it. In fact it has never been even a South Australian issue. One evening on a radio talkback session earlier this year, the federal member for Grey which includes the Kimba site, was shocked to hear any objection from a person like myself who didn’t live within the Kimba council voting zone. Pure shock. Astonishment. What could I be thinking of that I could have a say or even an opinion!

In other words I was not one of the just 824 (less than 300th of one per cent) of South Australians who were decreed eligible to speak about the storage of radioactive waste which will remain toxic for every South Australian generation.

Moreover, despite the former responsible Minister Matt Canavan’s repeated assertions that submissions from others outside the extraordinary narrow designated voting zone was a possible way to influence proceedings — there seems to have been no recorded mention of any of the 2789 submissions. With some of extraordinary length and scholarship, 94.5 per cent were against the federal nuclear waste proposal. They were seemingly ignored; one wonders were they even read?

From July 28th to August 28th, there have been four Senate Inquiry sessions concerning the Radioactive Waste Management Amendment Bill 2020, all by video link. During the Inquiry sessions it became obvious which three Senators had done their careful homework with penetrating questions to witnesses on either side of the debate.

Extreme concern about the issue was expressed by the Chair of the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation, Jason Bilney and by other Barngarla people; by Peter Woolford, farmer President of the No Radioactive waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA group; by Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation, the single environmentalist invited to be a witness. On the other hand, there was spirited defence of the project, including every aspect of the process by the two senior government officials; by the landholder of the chosen site and by Kimba council representatives. There was an eager willingness