House debates

Wednesday, 16 February 2022


Australian Radioactive Waste Agency Bill 2022; Second Reading

10:46 am

Photo of Keith PittKeith Pitt (Hinkler, National Party, Minister for Resources and Water) Share this | | Hansard source


I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Australian Radioactive Waste Agency Bill 2022 gives effect to the government's commitment to transition the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency from a branded function of the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources to a separate non-corporate Commonwealth entity.

Establishing a new agency provides the opportunity to create a fit-for-purpose agency with a clearly defined purpose and scope of works.

Radioactive waste is generated by the Commonwealth and other Australian entities and is predominantly a by-product of nuclear medicine. There are a number of Commonwealth agencies in Australia producing and storing radioactive waste or that have a role in advising on radiation safety as one of their functions. However, no Commonwealth agency has radioactive waste management as its primary function.

Establishing a dedicated, topic-specific agency with highly-specialised technical expertise ensures Australia's radioactive waste is managed in accordance with domestic and international conventions. It ensures a committed focus on the continued development of best practice radioactive waste management policy, including research and development of intermediate level waste solutions.

Nuclear industries have long supported Australia's scientific capabilities and enhanced our reputation as a global leader in medical and scientific advances. It is long overdue to establish a dedicated agency that can provide expertise in specialised waste to ensure our scientists and medical researchers will continue the vital work enhancing the lives of communities across the world.

The new agency will be responsible for all stages of design, construction, licensing applications and operation of the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility. The bill also provides the agency with the functions it needs to manage radioactive waste at the facility. The agency will have specialist technical expertise in the waste management of radioactive material and work with stakeholders including waste producers, industry, the community, and government agencies, to ensure ongoing best practice in the waste management of radioactive material in Australia.

The bill establishes the critical office of chief executive officer, who will lead the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency. The CEO will lead an agency that has operational responsibility for the running of the facility, along with strategic responsibility for advice to government and other agencies on material that will become waste.

Recent advice indicates that every Australian will draw on the benefits of nuclear medicine in their lifetime. Establishing this dedicated agency is an important step in ensuring the waste generated by nuclear medicine is appropriately dealt with for future generations, providing critical security for the industry. This bill continues to demonstrate this government's commitment to improving safety and certainty around waste management of radioactive material in Australia.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.