Consultation boundaries need to be set
I write in response to ‘Nuclear impact wider than Kimba’, Eyre Peninsula Tribune, January 25 to answer some of Mr Schmucker’s questions.
It is just a reality that boundaries have to be set when undertaking a community ballot.
But we make sure we talk openly to the community and understand how they see themselves and what is workable before we do so.
The definition of community that we used in the last vote reflected the feedback from the community.
That said, we are here to listen and if the community want a different approach we will consider it.
However, any change must be supported by the broad majority of the community and it must be fair, not favouring any side or interest in the public debate.
However, I acknowledge there will always be some like Mr Schmucker who feel their views are not being heard or sought when lines are drawn on a map.
The fact is this is not the case.
Our transparent consultation process provides information to anyone who is interested and we are always open to views and submissions from anyone regardless where they are.
The independent postal ballot, undertaken by the Australian Electoral Commision on behalf of the Kimba District Council, reported that of the 690 formal votes submitted, there were 396 ‘Yes’ votes and 294 ‘No’ votes, giving a total in favour of proceeding of 57.4 per cent.
The decision to progress both the sites was made by considering the results of the ballot, direct representations and submissions made in the more than 90-day consultation process.
On the community consultation underway, the department and project team are making every effort to engage the community broadly.
Participation in the ballot at the end of phase one was not - and is not - the only way people inside and outside each community can express their views on the project.
Our Kimba project office is open each week, with our team there to answer questions and provide information to anyone who chooses to visit it.
We host information sessions regularly and participate in local community events.
We have hired a community liaison officer who is also available to discuss the project, offer information, and seek further information from the department.
And the newly formed Kimba Consultative Committee will provide yet another link between the community, the department and, ultimately, the Minister who will make the decision.
On the Kimba Consultative Committee, as we said at the time of announcement, we received 51 nominations, the majority of which were supportive, and the group represents a balance of views.
As the group is an informative body rather than a decision-making one, the most important factor is that members represent a cross-section of the community, and that is what has been achieved.
While it is not my place to comment on the matter of councils cooperating, I will note that the independent convenor of the Kimba Consultative Committee is both a resident and mayor of the neighbouring district of Ceduna.
In relation to the previous consultation, that related to different sites, the community was not found to broadly support progressing those nominations, which is why they did not proceed.
The relevant legislation says that each site volunteered must be assessed on its individual merits with evidence of community support.
Two landowners put forward new sites for consideration, with evidence of an increase in support for the proposal and therefore initial consultation was undertaken, leading to the phase two process we are in now.
In relation to this process, we are assessing each of the three nominated sites on their individual characteristics.
The two sites in Kimba understandably have a great deal of overlap when it comes to community consultation, because of their proximity, but I can assure Mr Schmucker that the technical assessment that takes place is site-specific.
Finally, Australia has been searching for a location for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility for 40 years.
The community-centred process underway now has been developed after many inquiries and reports into storage of the radioactive waste generated by activities that have greatly benefited our community and industries.
We acknowledge that there are strong views both for and against the facility, and we will continue to consult with people of all views as we continue our in-depth technical assessment and extensive community consultation at both sites in Kimba, and the third site at Wallerberdina Station.
We are providing the facts to communities who have volunteered to continue the discussion about hosting this facility, to inform their ultimate decision as to whether it should go ahead in their area.
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
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