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Radioactive waste: a way forward.



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greensmps.org.au Authorised by Senator Bob Brown Parliament House Canberra ACT greensmps.org.au Authorised by Senator Bob Brown Parliament House Canberra ACT

AUSTRALIAN GREENS POLICY INITIATIVE

greensmps.org.au Authorised by Senator Bob Brown Parliament House Canberra ACT

AUSTRALIAN GREENS POLICY INITIATIVE

The Australian Greens will move in the next Parliament to restore rights of appeal and procedural fairness in relation to the proposed dump at Muckaty Station in the NT. The Greens are also calling for a National Commission to properly investigate the best and safest options to monitor and store radioactive waste.

Australian Greens amendments to Radioactive Waste Dump legislation will:

• Reinstate procedural fairness and right of appeal to the Muckaty

• Establish criteria to guide ministerial discretion

• Establish a commission to investigate alternatives to remote repositories and implement international best practice in community engagement on radioactive waste management and

• Introduce an objects clause to the Bill

• Establish a remediation fund

• Introduce a commitment to minimise the creation of waste

• Establish a framework of future financial implications of running this facility

• Uphold health, environment and transportation safety standards along the transportation routes

Background

In 2005 the Howard Government passed the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act (CRWMA) through the Senate, overriding relevant NT legislation which prohibted radioactive waste dumping and identifying three sites for a proposed national waste dump. In 2006 the Act was amended to allow Land Councils to nominate a site, and Muckaty Station near Tennant Creek was nominated by the Northern Land Council.

Radioactive waste: a way forward

greensmps.org.au Authorised by Senator Bob Brown Parliament House Canberra ACT greensmps.org.au Authorised by Senator Bob Brown Parliament House Canberra ACT

AUSTRALIAN GREENS POLICY INITIATIVE

greensmps.org.au Authorised by Senator Bob Brown Parliament House Canberra ACT

Radioactive waste: a way forward

The bills were opposed by the Greens, Democrats and ALP in opposition, as well as the NT Government, national NGOs, the Central Land Council and Traditional Owners from all four proposed sites. The ALP promised to repeal the laws. The ALP also promised a transparent, deliberative, consensual, science and evidence-based approach to Australia’s production of radioactive waste and the long-term safe storage, transport and management of Australia’s radioactive waste.

After the election, radioactive waste was taken from the Science portfolio and given to Martin Ferguson in the Resources and Industry portfolio. In the absence of any action from Ferguson, in 2008 the Greens tabled a Private Senator’s Bill which was referred to the Environment Communication and the Arts Committee reporting in December 08. The report recommended that it be repealed and replaced, giving effect to the ALP’s election commitments.

Instead, the government ignored this advice and has joined forces with the Coalition to push new legislation through which essentially replicates the old, despite significant opposition from Traditional Owners and within its own party, and a growing community campaign.

The key flaws in the legislation

a) An inadequate framework, for managing radioactive waste, most notably the lack of procedural fairness or avenues for judicial review.

b) Wholesale overriding of State and Territory laws, suspension of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984, exclusion of the Native Title Act 1993 and suspension of the Judicial Review Act is alarming and heavy handed.

c) Failure to uphold international best practice particularly in relation to securing social licence and community acceptance of a radioactive waste facility.

d) Excessive discretionary power given to a Minister operating with an absolute minimum

greensmps.org.au Authorised by Senator Bob Brown Parliament House Canberra ACT greensmps.org.au Authorised by Senator Bob Brown Parliament House Canberra ACT

AUSTRALIAN GREENS POLICY INITIATIVE

of transparency and the withholding of key documents.

A National Commission

Australia needs to move beyond a debate over which remote Aboriginal community should host the nation’s radioactive waste inventory. The Greens propose a National Commission to investigate all the options to monitor and store this waste, rather than adopting the unquestioned assumption that a remote dump is the only option.

Until the industry can demonstrate that it has a safe way of guaranteeing safe isolation of radioactive waste for tens of thousands of years, the Greens believe the material should remain on-site, close to the point of production, where it can be monitored, re-packaged as necessary, and subjected to as little transport and movement as possible.

This option essentially allows for the greatest future flexibility, and does not foreclose potential future management options which may arise as waste management technologies evolve (for example through synroc, nanotechnology, transmutation or some other technique).

Radioactive waste: a way forward