Monday, 4 December 2017
Radioactive Waste Management
That the Senate—
(a) acknowledges that the Federal Government is continuing to advance plans to locate a federal radioactive waste facility in regional South Australia;
(b) notes that all three sites under consideration are actively contested by community members, and that the project in its current configuration is inconsistent with South Australian law;
(c) notes that around 95 per cent of the waste planned for any future federal facility is currently in secure storage at two existing federal sites; and
(d) calls on the Federal Government to advance responsible radioactive waste management by committing not to impose any federal facility on an unwilling community, acting in a manner consistent with state laws and leading practice, and facilitating an open review process to explore the range of long-term future management options.
Radioactive waste is currently stored in more than 100 locations around Australia. For more than 40 years, Australia has been working to identify a location to consolidate the waste. This process is now well underway. The National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 has bipartisan support and is centred on the community. Under its mandated process, the facility will be located on a volunteered site on technically acceptable land with a broadly supportive community. Against these broad criteria and supported by community consultation, three applications have currently progressed to phase 2 of this assessment.
Labor is unable to support this motion. The motion presented by Senator Hanson-Young is technically incorrect. The assertion that the project would be inconsistent with South Australian law cannot be confirmed. It also makes no reference to the actions of the South Australian government in adopting a policy that local Aboriginal communities should have a final right of veto over any future facility proposed on their lands. This has been an ongoing issue for 30 years. Advice received is that a national facility is required in the medium term. Australians depend on nuclear technology for medicines used in the diagnosis of heart disease and skeletal injuries, as well as a range of cancers. Radioactive waste is managed in 100 locations around Australia, including hospitals, industrial sites, mines and suburban Sydney.
In order to save time I won't call a division. It's clear the government and the Labor Party have the numbers on this motion, but I will raise that I'm disappointed to see the Labor Party line up with the government on this. This motion is about ensuring we have a proper process that takes into consideration the views of local communities, particularly local Indigenous communities. I think it's shameful that that's been swept under the carpet.