10 February 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:
That this council—
- Notes the unanimous opposition of Barngarla traditional owners to the federal government's planned imposition of a national nuclear waste dump (repository and store) on farming land near Kimba on SA's Eyre Peninsula;
- Notes that Barngarla traditional owners were excluded from the federal government's 'community ballot', that federal parliament's Human Rights Committee found that the nuclear dump proposal is a violation of the Barngarla people's human rights, and that the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation has initiated a legal challenge against the declaration of the Kimba;
- Notes that the National Health and Medical Research Council's 'Code of practice for near-surface disposal of radioactive waste' states that agricultural land should not be used for a radioactive waste repository;
- Notes that an overwhelming majority of waste destined for the SA dump (measured by radioactivity) is long-lived intermediate level waste (including reactor fuel reprocessing waste) that will be stored above ground indefinitely;
- Notes that the SA Nuclear Waste Storage (Prohibition) Act 2000 bans the import, transport, storage and disposal of nuclear wastes in SA; and
- Calls on the SA government to oppose the federal government's attempt to impose a national nuclear waste dump in SA and condemns the SA government for its failure to do so to date.
It is good to have the opportunity to talk about this issue, which is very important for the people of South Australia. The decision of the federal government late last year to dump nuclear waste in Kimba is a decision with profound implications for our state. South Australians could not have been clearer. We do not want a dangerous radioactive nuclear waste dump in our farming country and one that is imposed against the wishes of the Barngarla, the area's traditional owners.
From the get-go, the Greens have been steadfast in our opposition to SA becoming a dumping ground for nuclear waste. There needs to be appropriate scrutiny of this decision, including at the very least a wideranging parliamentary inquiry to consider the implications of this decision not only for the community but for our pristine agricultural land.
What this decision will result in is the passage of radioactive waste through South Australia's regional roads, our streets and our waters for decades to come. A radioactive waste dump in the heart of our food bowl would put at risk our clean, green reputation and our state's key grain export industries.
According to the SA Conservation Council, the current plan would mean that Australia's highest rated radioactive waste, which needs to be kept isolated from human contact for 10,000 years, will be temporarily parked in above-ground shedding while the authorities work out where to build a permanent below-ground repository. So it is just going to be dumped there. The government says it will take decades, while the federal nuclear regulator says it could take a century.
One of the direct concerns that has been raised with Kimba relating to the site is the lack of Barngarla consent. The traditional owners do not want this. There has been a tightly managed consultation process—and I say 'consultation' because it has been a sham because it has excluded the wider Eyre Peninsula and the wider SA community. It is also unlawful. The federal plan is in direct contradiction with longstanding SA law. It is unnecessary.
The recent allocation of $60 million to extend secure waste storage at ANSTO in New South Wales means that there is simply no pressing need for this facility. However, there is also a lot of uncertainty around this. Key project details are missing, including what it means for the transport routes, emergency service capacity and the impact on the reputation of sensitive industries, including, of course, our agriculture and our tourism industries.
We have talked a lot over the last few days about the terrible impact the poor planning of the Liberal Party in relation to COVID and opening up the borders has had on our economy. Why on earth would we be risking more uncertainty for our economy in the middle of this crisis? Why would we be putting farmland at risk? We know that radioactive waste is extremely hazardous to people and to our environment. It can pollute water. It can kill wildlife. It can cause a number of deadly human health issues such as cancer.
The proposed double handling of intermediate level radioactive waste is inconsistent with international best practice. Alternatives should be canvassed here, especially given the Barngarla traditional owners were not only excluded from the federal government's community ballot but that the federal parliament's human rights committee found that the declaration of Kimba as the chosen site is in direct violation of the Barngarla people's human rights. It is a complete slap in the face to the traditional owners and it is a complete slap in the face to the people of South Australia who have consistently said they do not want SA to be the nation's nuclear waste dumping ground.
I think all South Australians would be interested to know whether or not the Marshall government has sought advice from the Crown Solicitor on the impacts of Kimba being selected as the nation's radioactive site—something that is in direct contradiction of the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act of 2000, an act that was passed under the then Liberal Olsen government.
I think the honourable Treasurer would have been the only member of this place who was there at that time. Perhaps he would like to shed some light on whether he has sought advice on the implications of what the federal government is doing and what it means for that act. Perhaps he will shed some light on that when he comes to provide a contribution on behalf of the government during this debate. While the Greens recognise that responsible management of radioactive waste is of course needed, we do not support the current deeply flawed, unnecessary and divisive Kimba plan.
I had an opportunity to travel to Kimba during my time in the federal parliament. I travelled there with my then state parliamentary colleague, my predecessor in this place, the Hon. Mark Parnell, and Senator Scott Ludlam, who was the Greens' nuclear spokesperson. We met with traditional owners, we met with people in the local community. It is very clear to me from those interactions that there is not strong community support for this, that it was incredibly divisive in the community, and that people do not want to see their local community becoming the state's nuclear waste dumping ground. That is not what they want for their local community, and who could blame them?
Given that Barngarla traditional owners have launched a legal campaign to block the federal government's plans to build this nuclear waste dump, I want to assure the voters of South Australia that the Greens will continue to do what we can in this place to ensure that parliamentary scrutiny occurs and that the concerns of the Barngarla people are heard.
I want to put members on notice that I will be calling a division on this matter because I want to ensure that the views of the members of this place are put on the public record, so that as the voters of South Australia head to the polls in a few weeks' time they know who is in favour of the Liberal Party's radioactive agenda and who is against it and so that they know who in the crossbench will stand firm in support of environmental protection and who will roll over and acquiesce to the Liberal Party and their radioactive vision. It is an important test and I will be calling a division.