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Economics References Committee
05/07/2018
Selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia

BALDOCK, Mrs Heather, Representative, Working for Kimba's Future

BALDOCK, Mr Jeff, Representative, Working for Kimba's Future

CLIFF, Mrs Kerri, Representative, Working for Kimba's Future

KOCH, Mrs Katrina, Representative, Working for Kimba's Future

LIENERT, Mrs Meagan, Chair, Working for Kimba's Future

SCHMIDT, Mr David, Representative, Working for Kimba's Future

[12:46]

CHAIR: I welcome representatives from Working for Kimba's Future. Thank you for appearing before the committee today. I invite you to make a brief opening statement, should you wish to do so, and then we'll open it up for questions.

Mrs Lienert : I am the chair of the Working for Kimba's Future group. I'm a teacher within the community and my husband and I are farmers and own a local business in town, as well. I want to thank you for the opportunity to present today. We represent the Working for Kimba's Future group, which is a volunteer group formed on 25 April 2016 with a common goal of working towards a secure and independent future for our community. We strongly support the possible siting of the proposed low and intermediate national radioactive waste management facility in Kimba. We believe that the selection process over the past three years has been appropriate, transparent and thorough.

I think it is appropriate to mention our involvement. Since April 2016, after an informal meeting of proactive community members, our group's involvement began. Following an announcement on April 29 that neither of the two Kimba sites nominated in phase 1 were moving to phase 2 of the process, we heard from many in our community who were extremely disappointed that Kimba was not given the opportunity to move through to phase 2 and learn more about the proposed facility. During phase 1 of the process we believe our community was able to take a step back and look at the future long-term viability of the district and realise that we are vulnerable. Kimba has changed a lot over the past 30 years, decreasing in size and population, with currently well over 40 houses publicly for sale. Farms are getting bigger and using fewer employees and small businesses are finding it tougher. The realisation by more of the community that Kimba cannot continue to rely on just agriculture in a low rainfall area for its long-term survival is strong motivation to explore every opportunity. The promising opportunity to locate the proposed facility in our highly motivated community was not to be dismissed without thorough investigation and consideration. We felt it was our right and responsibility to explore a possible industry that would provide guaranteed jobs for a minimum of 100 years. After the announcement that the two phase 1 nominations weren't moving forward, we looked for other ways to increase the town's sustainability and kept coming back to this opportunity.

In his announcement in April 2016 Minister Frydenberg had indicated that he would be open to considering new nominations from anywhere. We heard from many that they would have liked to have progressed to phase 2 in order to make a better informed decision. From here, we shared relevant information with the community in regard to the proposed facility through many newsletters, which we've provided for you, and personal conversations. We heard from people stating that they didn't know some of the information we shared and they wish they'd known it earlier. Also some landowners said they would volunteer land if the community were to be given a second chance. From this, our group, who represent a wide variety of community interests, perspectives and backgrounds, observed increasing support throughout the community to explore this opportunity again.

In June 2016 we initiated a search for new site nominations within our district, and we received 13 possible suggestions from 10 different landowners. We approached the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to investigate the correct process to nominate new sites and advised our local council of the landowners and our intentions. We approached the department to ask for preliminary technical assessments to be completed on some of our suggested sites from the GPS coordinates we supplied. We then looked at the strengths of these nominations and their suitability before putting forward three potential sites. The department then conducted conversations with the community and received many submissions to gauge if community sentiment had changed over time, and they found that support had increased. From here, two landowners made a voluntary decision to nominate a site to the minister. These were subsequently accepted to go through a 90-day public consultation. The first community vote was held in June 2017 and clearly demonstrated what we knew—that the majority of the community supported continuing to discuss this. The two new nominations moved to phase 2, where the community continue to learn more and explore the opportunity in depth. During the process there's been ample opportunity for the Kimba community to be informed, with relevant information and opportunity to hear from experts in their fields. We are passionate advocates that have been working for a longer term survival of Kimba to secure the future of the whole district for generations. The proposal itself was promising, and the more we've found out, the more confident we are that this facility would be the lifeline that our community needs.

Moving forward, we are satisfied that the process has been appropriate and thorough, and it continues to be informative, with public information sessions, visits from ARPANSA and ANSTO, numerous department newsletters and factsheets, an office in the main street, opportunities for local people to visit ANSTO and much information available on websites. The process epitomises those facilities considered to be successful overseas.

I wish to refer to the terms of reference. Firstly, the financial compensation offered to landowners is fair and appropriate. Secondly, it has been very clear to us that the broad community support the minister is seeking cannot be wrapped up neatly in a simple percentage from a vote. The minister has been clear that he also wished to take into account the view of near neighbours and the Indigenous community, and to take submissions from outside of the formal voting region, as requested at a recent KCC meeting as well. We consider this to be very fair and ultimately up to the minister to decide. Thirdly, we do not believe it is our place to comment on the Indigenous support in this process. Next, our community was aware of a community benefit program and a package, clarifying there is a difference between the community benefit fund, with $2 million community benefit fund our community has just been through, and a benefit package to move forward if the facility were built in our community. We have actually mentioned this in several newsletters since May 2016, so we've been well aware of this leading up to the vote and well before that.

Lastly, in regard to whether the wider community have an input, it is our understanding that the minister is accepting written submissions from people on the Eyre Peninsula and wider, and that any people that wish to voice their opinions have this opportunity still. The decisions on the boundaries being voted on were outlined by the council earlier and have also been discussed and voted on at our KCC as well. Like many decisions in our community, we don't consult the rest of the Eyre Peninsula or South Australia, so I would see it as being irrelevant to do so again to that level of vote.

Now we have the sites, we've had the consultation process and we've had the discussion. The process has created a well-informed community on an issue of some complexity that can now make a well-informed decision, whatever that decision may be. After three years, we feel it is now our community's turn to have a say on whether this new industry gets the green light to proceed in our area. Thank you for your time.

CHAIR: Thank you, Mrs Lienert. We've been presented with a number of documents here.

Mrs Lienert : We may refer to them in some questions but they are just for your perusal. The newsletters that have been presented to you are some of the information that we've provided to the community, to provide them with the information they need to be able to make a well-informed decision. The other document is the process that we've gone through in detail.

CHAIR: Are you happy to table these documents for the committee?

Mrs Lienert : Yes.

CHAIR: Is there any objection?

Senator GALLACHER: No. I'll certainly second that.

CHAIR: Thank you very much for that. I've got just a couple of questions. From your opening statement, it sounds like your group is happy with the level of consultation engagement that the department has participated in. Would you say that there's been any change—has it improved over time? Have they learnt as they've gone along?—or would you say it's been consistent throughout?

Mrs Lienert : Are you talking about the amount of information supplied?

CHAIR: Yes.

Mrs Lienert : I think it has definitely increased over time. From the first phase 1, I believe that we've been provided with more and more opportunities to find out information, including moving forward. Phase 2 has definitely provided us with a lot more information.

CHAIR: I note there's some commonality between the proponent group and this group but I'm going to ask you the question. In terms of experts from outside the community coming in and talking to members of the community at public meetings, how would you describe the level of attendance and engagement of the community with those opportunities?

Mrs Lienert : Very good. I think that those who wish to know have definitely gone out of their way to find out the information that they want to find out and attend the sessions that they wish to attend.

CHAIR: How do people find out about these sessions? How does any member of the public here—

Mrs Lienert : I'm happy to keep commenting on that. There have been a number of different avenues. There have been a lot of letterbox drops from the department but we have also chosen to do that from our perspective. I know that both the No Radioactive Waste group and our group have their own Facebook sites; I believe that we've both advertised different sessions that people can attend for those sorts of things. Also, through the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility's website, people can sign up for regular newsletters from that group as well, which I believe a lot of people within the community have done. They are notified of different things happening that way, and through our local council as well. I think they've done a very good job of advertising things for the department as well.

CHAIR: I could be wrong on this but I think the AEC ballot had something like an 88 per cent participation rate—

Mrs Lienert : Very high.

CHAIR: which suggests to me that people are aware of what's going on. I think you touched on this issue in your opening statement: your view is that any further balloting should be confined to the local authority area of the Kimba district?

Mrs Lienert : Yes.

CHAIR: What would you say to those who argue for a wider definition?

Mrs Lienert : I believe that everyone has an opportunity to still have a say, regardless of whether it be via a vote or a written submission, which I know that the departments still take into account. Whether those submissions have a higher weighting than the people from Kimba, that's up to the minister to decide. But everyone has an opportunity to have a say in that respect.

CHAIR: Do you have confidence that the minister is going to make an informed decision? There is some doubt about the precise nature of what it means to have broad community support. It's not going to be a specific percentage in a vote; there are a number of factors that may well be taken into account. What gives you the confidence to leave that decision to the minister?

Mrs Lienert : From all of our knowledge all along the way, we've known that broad community support has been based on numbers that they've gathered, whether it be via the survey in the first phase of the first round or whether it be via a vote—so gathering numbers that way. But it is also based on strong neighbour support as well as Indigenous support or consultation, and looking at submissions along the way. So we believe that it is not just based on a number. It is based on a few different sources, I would say, for gathering their information on what the community sentiment is. That is what it's based on. To us, a majority is good. Be that 51 per cent, 55 per cent or whatever people would like to put on that themselves, that is their decision. But we trust that the minister will make a well-informed judgement from the information that they've gathered over the past three years.

CHAIR: What's been communicated to you in terms of the benefits of the project? What do you understand the benefits to the community to be?

Mrs Lienert : I'm going to hand over to Heather for that one.

Mrs H Baldock : We have learnt more and more about the benefits of this project as time has rolled on. Obviously, going to phase 2 has enabled us to expect a lot more information from the department, and they certainly have been forthcoming with that. I think we could mention first of all that, whether or not we go ahead with the facility, being able to access the community benefit program through AusIndustry, the $2 million that came to our community—we are a small community and we do often have trouble attracting funds—in itself was a huge boon to our community. Thirty-three different projects actually got funding through that, ranging from health through to social to sporting to economic benefits.

Leaving that aside, because that's obviously part of phase 2 regardless of whether we go through, some of the attractive stuff for our community are the minimum of 45 jobs, the $200 million plus build, the construction phase—the opportunities there. So many of our young people leave our community. It is well known that 30 per cent of EP's young people leave to seek jobs and to seek other employment. To have additional opportunities for our youth, but also for other people who may wish to return to Kimba, is just a great thing. And these jobs will continue for many years. It's not a seasonal thing. In our community, we are heavily reliant on agriculture, in a low-rainfall area. Those of us who support this project see this as an opportunity to create some sustainability for us in the long term. It drought-proofs us to a certain extent, I guess. It is one of those opportunities that rarely come along that ensures our community continues to thrive and maybe even grow.

CHAIR: From what you've said, it sounds like you've weighed up the positives and negatives, and you see the positives as outweighing the negatives. But what do people say to you are the negatives of this project?

Mrs H Baldock : I'm sure there are people who have concerns about the impacts on our community, and we hear them. Gradually, over time, some of these concerns have been addressed through us learning more information about the project, of course. We've had access to lots of information over the last three years, but particularly during phase 2, which is what was intended with phase 2. So, gradually, those concerns are being addressed. Most recently, the department have released the agricultural fact sheet, and I'm aware of the minister's agriculture roundtable that's taken place between some of the higher level agricultural associations to discuss any impacts or benefits of the facility coexisting with agriculture. So more concerns are being addressed as we progress through phase 2.

CHAIR: Okay. Thank you.

Senator DEAN SMITH: Please excuse my ignorance, but, when you talk about the Working for Kimba's Future Group, how many Kimba based community organisations are involved?

Is the Kimba primary school P&C involved, for example? I'm just trying to get a sense—

Mrs Lienert : In the process?

Senator DEAN SMITH: In your future group work.

Mrs Lienert : The Working For Kimba's Future Group was formed from an informal gathering of people that were proactive about the facility. From that, people just volunteered to be part of a group to find out more information and share that with the rest of the community. So it is just general—anybody that wanted to be a part of finding out more information.

Senator DEAN SMITH: Is it fair to describe it as the primary vehicle in the community that has been encouraging people to be informed and has been disseminating information, not necessarily answering questions on people's behalf, because you've been referring people to the experts or putting people in touch with the experts as they've come to town? Is that a fair characterisation?

Mrs Lienert : Absolutely. You've hit the nail on the head. That is our main purpose. Yes, we are a proactive group; we are in support of the facility. But our main aim was to make sure that everyone was getting the information that they want to be able to make an informed decision.

Senator DEAN SMITH: Thanks very much.

Senator PATRICK: From your opening statement you almost gave me the impression, and I just want you to correct that impression if it's wrong, that, in actual fact, it was your group that were the genesis of the push for a facility here, and then the nominees were found, not the other way around—that the nominees put their name forward and then there was support garnered from your group.

Mrs Lienert : Yes, the second time around. In the first round, that was a voluntary process for whoever went and found out more information and put that forward. In the second round, we found that a lot of people from our community were very disappointed, and from Minister Frydenberg's statement there was still hope that we might be able to re-engage in this. From that we put out some information to the community about what we'd missed out on, and then some people from within the community voiced their opinions that 'gee, I wish I'd put my land up' and those sorts of things. There was general conversation; we didn't take names and write people's names down then. When we got the feeling that the community support was definitely growing and people wanted to re-engage, that's when we said to the community, 'Is there anyone that would like to put their land up to be considered?'

Senator PATRICK: Would it be fair to say that the motivation behind what it is that your group is doing is related to the economic benefit that would flow to the community?

Mrs Lienert : Not just economic benefit; we also see, like we said, it could be a lifeline for the community through jobs and through an increase in population, instead of a decrease, which we've seen definitely over the last 30 years. Just through looking at the history of small towns, it's not good over the next hundred years, but something like this could definitely create a sustainable future for us.

Senator PATRICK: I'm just going back to the evidence of the council this morning. They were saying that the government really hasn't done an economic study yet. That's underway. What studies has your organisation done and how have you come to the conclusion, in terms of cost benefit, that there is a positive benefit to the community? Have you gone through a process, or is it anecdotal?

Mrs Lienert : No, we've done our research. We have gathered a lot of research about what has actually changed to show everyone that we're not just saying that we want this. It's based on the fact that things have changed and we want to create that sustainable future. So, based on that, we have also had conversations. You ask questions of the department and you ask questions of lots of people. What could it look like? How many jobs do you think could be there? When ANSTO came and visited in May, it was fantastic to find out that there is a minimum of 45 jobs. So we're finally gathering more and more of that information. We're doing that on our own, but, also, we're just getting that from the department now. This phase 2 has been brilliant for finding out that extra information. Does that answer your question?

Senator PATRICK: That's fine, thank you. In relation to your absolute trust in the minister, if the minister, as a result of consulting with the Aboriginal community, were to say that he intended to put a 60 per cent weighting on their opinion over that of the general community, would you have a concern with that? Would your faith in the minister then stand?

Mrs Lienert : I would have a concern with that.

Senator PATRICK: You would have a concern with that?

Mrs Lienert : Yes.

Senator PATRICK: I think that's a very honest answer. Where I'm going with this is: can you then not see that the lack of transparency that sits around how the numbers will be used is problematic for perhaps both sides of the debate—that it would be much better to have transparency so that, if the minister were to make a decision where 60 per cent of the weighting of his decision was based around the Indigenous view, you would be able to question and challenge the minister, as is proper in a democracy? Surely you would see a difficulty with the lack of transparency in how he will come to the ultimate conclusion that he does, whichever way it goes.

Mrs Lienert : I think it's not a lack of transparency; it's your interpretation of that—sorry, not you specifically but the people's interpretation of it. He has clearly defined that it would be based on a number from the vote now, because that's been made, as well as neighbouring support, which will have a quite large weighting, I believe—that's just from the previous decision—Indigenous consultation, suitability at the site and lots of different things like that. I believe he has given us criteria, but there isn't a number on it. I would be happy with 51 per cent, if you're asking me. But I can tell you that the rest of the community may not agree and some definitely do not agree with my opinion. How you interpret that leads to whether you believe it, to be honest.

Senator PATRICK: Yes, it's just one of those things. The minister serves the governed; he doesn't serve himself. As a result of that, one would imagine that, if you lay down a number of 55, then people could have a debate about whether that was proper or improper.

Mrs Lienert : You could debate that for a very long time because you wouldn't make everyone happy, regardless of the number.

Senator PATRICK: Sure, but I expect there's a bell curve that says there are some people who will never be happy and there are some people who will always be happy and there'll be a distribution where people say, 'That's reasonable.'

Mr Schmidt : Somebody has to take the lead.

Senator PATRICK: Sure. There's no question that there has to be a decision-maker in this. You say there's been lots of consultation. That's a good thing. Often when a department seek to set a site—and this is just my own experience across departments, not necessary the department of industry—they'll present the positive side. Are you satisfied that the negative side has been presented fairly or at all in this discussion—that the downsides have been talked out and remedies to those downsides have been presented to you?

Mrs Lienert : We've definitely had some people visit the community. The No Radioactive Waste group organised Dr Beavis and associates to come and speak. I believe that many in the community attended that. A lot of what we've focused on is basing information on facts. As far as we know, the department are reaching out to world-class experts within their field.

Senator PATRICK: You said representation has been made with respect to, perhaps, the downside, but that was not organised by government. Were there other forums organised by government that were positive?

Mrs Lienert : I don't think it's a difference between positive and negative. I believe that the government reached out to the world-class experts in their field and that's whom they got to come here. Whether that is seen as a positive or a negative is up for interpretation.

Senator PATRICK: It was just that you said that it had been organised by, I think, the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Mrs Lienert : I'm not sure. You can ask the next group. They’ll be able to confirm that.

Senator PATRICK: Perhaps I will and when departmental officers appear before us as well.

Mrs Lienert : There's an opportunity for people to find out any kind of information, if they would like to find it out. How you interpret that information is up to how open you want to be. I can't speak for the rest of the community, only from within our group, but I believe it's been very, very thorough. There have been other opportunities, like the webinar that was online. People could have watched that. It was a really good debate between different professionals on the whole situation. You find out what you want to find out, and how much you're willing to engage in the process is up to the individual.

Senator PATRICK: My questions are only going to fairness. I'm just trying to establish that.

Mrs Lienert : Absolutely.

Senator PATRICK: Thank you.

Mr Schmidt : I would say from my experience that all we've been presented with is factual evidence. It has not been yes or no, good or bad, or—

Senator PATRICK: I'm just trying to make sure it's balanced in terms of where there is a downside that's presented—

Mr Schmidt : What is the downside in your mind?

Senator PATRICK: The question I would ask you is: if you've been fully informed—I haven't been through that informing process; you have—can you give me an example of where there's a downside?

Mr Schmidt : In my mind I really can't, but that's my personal opinion.

Senator PATRICK: As I said, I haven't been informed through the same process as you, but my general experience with any engineering proposition is that there are always downsides. I would've thought that there would at least have been some downsides presented by the department.

Mrs Lienert : To be fair, I believe that many questions have been asked by a whole range of people in the community and that includes asking about the downsides, the perceptions or the concerns. Those questions have definitely raised answers to those downsides. I believe a lot of the questions that people have had have been answered. If people still have concerns then they definitely need to ask the experts within their field, whether it be ANSTO or professionals.

Senator PATRICK: Thank you.

Senator GALLACHER: I want to follow on from that line of questioning. Has your organisation been appraised of the science? Has anybody actually shown you the science of the facility—this is what it looks like, this is how thick the concrete is, this is how we deal with waste and there is zero per cent of waste escaping? Have you had that level of exposure? Has that been true for the whole town?

Mrs Lienert : Yes.

Senator GALLACHER: So that, if you were an engineer, you could try to break it. You could say, 'It doesn't work.'

Mrs Lienert : Yes.

Senator GALLACHER: We've been storing the stuff at Lucas Heights for 30-plus years.

Mrs Lienert : Yes.

Senator GALLACHER: That's on the edge of Sydney. There are growing suburbs around that area—

Mrs Lienert : Yes.

Senator GALLACHER: and we've had no problems to my knowledge. So the science of the facility is open and visible?

Mrs Lienert : Yes, absolutely.

Senator GALLACHER: And that's what you're comfortable with. You're not comfortable with a politician's assurance that it's all going to be hunky-dory. You've actually got the science of the facility—

Mrs Lienert : Yes.

Senator GALLACHER: to the level of the thickness of the concrete, the lead-lined drums and the rest of it?

Mrs Lienert : Yes, definitely. It was provided through information sheets as well as I believe at the public meeting in February 2016. Also shown—and I don't know if it was in that much detail—was how the facility would go together and the science behind how it would be safe. That was shown at that meeting as well as at subsequent meetings. You can call into the office and see diagrams and more information. You can gather as much information as possible. I'm also a member of the KCC—and two others in our group are as well—and we have definitely been shown that in detail as well as the safety measures that are in place to avoid any issues. Also we've met with ARPANSA on the safety measures.

Senator GALLACHER: At least a couple of members of this committee have been to Lucas Heights and looked into the nuclear reactor and been told on the way out that we'd actually get more radioactive exposure on the flight back home than we got at the facility. That comes from scientists. It's their trade. They know what they're talking about. That level of openness and disclosure has been current for how long?

Mrs Lienert : Everyone has an opportunity to go to ANSTO if they wish to. I went on my own accord 18 months ago just to find out more and to see it for myself. Since then, going into phase 2 there have been offers to the community to go and see it for themselves and to talk to the scientists, definitely.

Mr J Baldock : Can I just add something. You were asking about what we knew. We've had quite a few people from ANSTO that work on the safety side of it over there. They have been over here giving presentations and answering people's questions. They've been in the office, where people could come in and ask questions, and they've been here. So we've certainly seen the science side of it.

Senator GALLACHER: That's been an ongoing process. Has this been going on for three years?

Mr J Baldock : Yes.

Senator GALLACHER: But there have been different levels of engagement and detail over three years.

Senator DEAN SMITH: I've read and heard about the Baldocks' long association with the district. Could each of you just let me know roughly how many years you've been associated with Kimba or the local district.

Mrs Koch : I was born here. I moved away for several years. I came back at about 19, married, had my family here and have lived here ever since. My now husband is a farmer with his brother and his father, and that has been going on for many, many generations also.

Mrs Cliff : I have been here for 34 years and counting. My husband's family have farmed here for 100 years this year. Our son is taking on fourth-generation farm interest and also sits on the KCC. My family include my mother-in-law, who was a chairman of the council in a previous time, when women were not usually in those positions. We're widely motivated in a political sense to advance not just Kimba but our region. We're a passionate family all the way through.

Mr Schmidt : Sorry I had to leave for a quick half-hour. My granddaughter actually did a history project on me for the school. But I have been here for 43 years.

Senator DEAN SMITH: Did she get it right?

Mr Schmidt : Absolutely.

Mrs Lienert : I've lived in Kimba for 21½ years. I came here as a schoolteacher and then married a local farmer. We have a property about 40 kilometres out of town, and we have a general engineering business here as well. My husband is a generational farmer, and we've had our engineering business for about five years as well. So it is a broad background.

Senator DEAN SMITH: Great. Finally, just to make sure I've read this document correctly, even though you have a strong view supporting the proposition, you have actually facilitated community discussions with people that might have an alternative view. I can see here the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Medical Association for Prevention of War, for example.

Mrs Lienert : Members of our group attended a session that they did.

Senator DEAN SMITH: Great. Of course, there was the public information night in the town hall.

Mrs Lienert : Yes—at the hotel.

Senator DEAN SMITH: Great. Thank you.

CHAIR: I note from some of the material that you've provided that in the district about 40 per cent of the employment is in agriculture. From listening to what your backgrounds are, a lot of you have an agricultural background. That interests me because I would hazard a guess that those that oppose this project see some concerns with how it might impact on the agricultural industry and the reputation of the area. So what do you say to people about those concerns?

Mrs Lienert : There's been a definite concern expressed about the perception of nuclear waste—rather than a radioactive waste facility—and its impact on agriculture production or the sales of it. That has been a serious concern that some people have had. I believe perception is an opinion or an interpretation, and it is what people hear, see and become aware of. If we hear, see and become aware of facts that are positive, we base our perception on that. If we hear, see and become aware of facts that are negative, we base our perception on that. If we were to provide the factual information that many of our community have received—and we've had the same presentations from ARPANSA and from different government bodies that manage the safety of the facility and those sorts of things—I believe that people would have a more positive perception of that. Therefore I believe that, the more information we can provide to people that buy our produce and manage our produce that we are selling from our community, the more understanding they will have, and they can see that it is safe. And, as Andrew mentioned this morning, having a buffer zone around the facility to be able to test and show and prove that this is a safe facility would be an ideal way of doing that. Jeff, do you want to add to that at all?

Mr J Baldock : Yes. There's also plenty of evidence around Australia already of this co-existing. Apart from the facility at Esk and the one in Western Australia, where some of the waste is stored now, there's also in our state the likes of Thevenard, where the wheat from that area goes off the same belt as what their radioactive sands do; Port Adelaide, where the uranium gets shipped out of, is the same place as where our wheat gets shipped out of; and Pirie—it's a bit of a different issue in a way, I guess—which has an actual issue with the lead over there, but they tend to blend their grain from there, and that's never been an issue for anyone selling for export. The other thing is that with Pirie they also have the disused uranium pits there from when they did Radium Hill, and no-one seems to raise that as an issue when they're selling their produce from that area. So there's plenty of evidence that this co-exists elsewhere.

CHAIR: I have one more question in terms of how representative your group is of the broader community. Do you have a membership list as such? Do you keep tabs on the number of members that you have?

Mrs Lienert : We do not have a membership list. We didn't see that that was appropriate or needed at the time. We have done our own research on trying to look at where we think the percentage for us sits on the people in support. Without doing that we wouldn't have been able to move forward to put new nominations through, because we had to prove to ourselves that we thought that the support had increased. So we have done our own research on that, but we do not have a number to say, 'We have 363 members' or anything like that.

CHAIR: So what would you say to those that might say, 'Well, you don't actually represent the majority'?

Mrs Lienert : We'll wait and have a vote.

Mrs Cliff : I would like to add to that that the fact that 88 per cent of the population participated in a vote is huge. In a voluntary vote anywhere in the world, that is a very high number of participation. It was a number in the positive and I think that was reinforcement for us that the research we had done off our own back and conversations had proven true. But I think a turning point for a lot of people was when the French delegation visited Kimba and a lot of questions about the impact of the facility in their community were answered, and questions were able to be asked and answered all evening. That was a big turning point. And also, with respect to how it sits within the Sutherland Shire in New South Wales, we believe that we've had access to all of those people's opinions as well.

Mrs Lienert : Just to finish on Kerri's point, I think it's important to note that our main aim was to ensure that the whole community received the information that they needed to receive and we could assist them in finding the answers that they needed. So whether they vote yes or no is not up to us to decide. But we try to represent the community in providing the information that they need.

Senator KETTER: Thank you very much for appearing before us today.