Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Environment; Order for the Production of Documents
I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 643 standing in my name for today, in the terms circulated in the chamber, concerning an order for the production of documents relating to the radioactive waste management facility at Kimba.
I move the motion as amended:
(1) That the Senate notes that:
(a) in 2015, the Government commenced consultation with the local community of Kimba in South Australia on whether the town might host a radioactive waste management facility, in order to ascertain if there was 'broad community support';
(b) in an early 2016 vote on the issue, the community was shown to be split down the middle – 51% in favour to 49% against;
(c) a late 2016 vote was then held, where the numbers changed slightly to 56% in favour to 41% against;
(d) on 22 March 2017, the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, responding to a question from then Senator Xenophon on the meaning of 'broad community support', advised the Senate that the Government had taken a proposal forward in the Hawker region in South Australia where support was at 65%;
(e) the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia further advised that, while the Government has not put a definitive figure on what constitutes 'broad community support', the Government would need a figure in the range of the support received in Hawker;
(f) Kimba voted a third time in July this year, with a total of 88% of the community voting – the results have come in at 57% for and 43% against;
(g) at no stage has the 65% 'broad community support' criteria the Government set itself been reached; and
(h) on 27 June 2017, the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia announced that two proposed sites for a radioactive waste management facility at Kimba will proceed to the next phase of assessment.
(2) That there be laid on the table by the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, by no later than 3.30 pm on 7 December 2017, a definition of the decision criteria 'broad community support' and all information used by him to determine that proceeding to the next phase of assessment for the two proposed sites for a radioactive waste management facility at Kimba had 'broad community support'.
The decision to progress the site to phase 2 is based on the responsible minister's assessment of whether broad community support exists. There is no specified threshold for support, as this motion asserts. Broad community support includes a consideration by the minister of a range of stakeholders' views, including those of the general community, traditional owners, businesses and adjacent neighbours. Information regarding the decision to proceed to the next phase of assessment for the two proposed sites for a radioactive waste management facility at Kimba is available on the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility's website.
This motion flows from a constituent who tried and failed to get access to the formal definition the government has used for the term 'broad community support' using the freedom of information laws. The government has refused to provide her with that definition. The government is seeking to withhold from her a critical definition that they used in a decision that was about her and, supposedly, for her. She wasn't asking for instructions on how to fire a missile from one of our Navy ships or for details on the latest operations of our security services—no. She just wanted the definition of 'broad community support'. I urge the chamber to support this motion.