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Senate tightens nuclear legislation.

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Media Release



Federal Member for Jagajaga

Shadow Minister for Health and the Status of Women


3 December, 1998




Important changes are to be made to new Government legislation on radiation protection and nuclear safety. Amendments, proposed by the Labor Party and the Greens, have been endorsed by the Senate Community Affairs and Legislation Committee.


Shadow Health Minister, Jenny Macklin said, “The original legislation lacked accountability and contemplated the licensing of nuclear power plants and reprocessing plants”


“I welcome the Government’s acceptance that the legislation should exclude such developments and that safety standards should be based on international best practice. The Government has also accepted new procedures for public comment and representation for consumer and environmental groups on the relevant Committees,” Ms Macklin said


The Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Bill 1998 establishes a new regulatory body called the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency which will take over responsibility for all licensing by the Commonwealth of facilities using radiation or nuclear materials for industrial, scientific or medical purposes.


Ms Macklin said that NSW Labor Senator Michael Forshaw had submitted a minority report an issue still in dispute. “The Government does not accept the need for a mandatory public inquiry before a major new nuclear facility is established. Labor believes such an inquiry is required and will develop further amendments to present in the Senate when the Bill is debated.”


For further information: Andrew Herington 0418 573 504

Jenny Macklin 0419 593 622


Extract from the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee report

on the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Bill 1998




The Committee reports to the Senate that it has considered the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Bill 1998, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (Licence Charges) Bill 1998 and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (Consequential Amendments) Bill 1998.


1. The Committee recognises and supports the need for a strong regulatory structure to monitor Commonwealth activities involving radiation protection and nuclear safety.


2. The Committee believes the Bills presented to the Senate provides that structure but would recommend amendments to the legislation to:


• Ensure the CEO must have regard to the application of world's best practice when issuing licenses.


• Ensure the Minister and the CEO consider nominations from consumer and environmental groups before making appointments of persons on each of the Committees.


•  That the CEO have the functions of monitoring and reporting on the operations of ARPANSA, the Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Council, the Radiation Health Committee and the Nuclear Safety Committee, including reporting through Quarterly and Annual reports.


•  That the CEO be given direct power over the staffing of ARPANSA.


•  That where the CEO gives directions to a controlled person believed not to be complying with the Act, the direction be passed to the Minister and tabled in the Parliament.


•  Amend the definition of "nuclear installation" to delete the references to nuclear power reactors and to reprocessing facilities, and to add references to the following:

• a spent fuel conditioning plant

• a nuclear isotope production facility

• a nuclear waste storage facility

• a nuclear waste disposal facility.


•  That the Bill distinguishes between medium scale facilities, such as a reactor or waste storage site, which could be called "nuclear installations" and small scale facilities which might be dubbed "prescribed facilities" to enable an appropriate degree of planning oversight and public participation for each category.


•  That a licence under section 31 should only occur:

• in t he case of a prescribed facility, after the proponent has issued a public notice providing an opportunity for comment by third parties to the CEO prior to a decision on the licence.


• That similar procedures as are required under the Environment Protection (Nuclear Codes) Act 1978 should be incorporated for the development of replacement Codes and that transitional provisions be inserted to keep existing Codes current until new ones have been adopted be included in the regulations.


•  That the regulations include provisions that all new and existing licenses be listed in the Quarterly Report.


•  That there be conflict of interest provisions in relation to Committee members included in the regulations.


3. The Committee recognises the importance of getting the new framework in place but also notes the strong community concern about the details of its implementation. It is therefore recommended that:


•  The draft regulations to be made under the Bill should be presented for public comment for a period of not less than two months before being presented to Parliament by the Government and that matters of detail be considered further at that stage.


•  The Bills should be passed by the Senate, incorporating the recommended amendments.


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