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Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Page: 1483

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (12:52): I feel some conflict here—I am arguing, against the Greens, for Commonwealth powers, while they are supporting states' rights. It is a very unusual position for Senator Ludlam to take in these debates. We do not think his propositions are workable. Provisions in the bill which override state and territory laws operate only to the extent necessary for the facility to be established and to operate as intended. An Australian government facility such as this would normally be regulated through Commonwealth laws. State and territory laws would normally have no role to play. Obviously allowing those laws to apply would permit their legislation to prohibit the siting of a facility and transporting waste. We think that would produce a conflicting outcome that is inimical to the objective of the bill, which is to provide for the establishment of a national radioactive waste management facility.

The other issues that Senator Ludlam refers to can be accommodated through cooperative arrangements with state and territory agencies such as law enforcement and fire brigade organisations et cetera. It is important that it be clear in the bill that the Commonwealth law will apply, and that is the approach the government prefers very much to what I think would be a very complicated matrix that could undermine the whole objective of the bill if the Greens amendments were supported.