Ballot date set as Resources Minister visits Kimba

MEETING: Resources Minister Matt Canavan with Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey at the Kimba community meeting.
MEETING: Resources Minister Matt Canavan with Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey at the Kimba community meeting.

A date has been set for the Kimba community ballot on the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) project, opening the door for one of the two proposed Kimba sites to be selected before consultation is complete on a third site near Hawker.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan was in town this week as the Kimba District Council announced the timing of the ballot.

Ballots will be posted to voters in the Kimba district from October 3, with voting set to close on November 7.

Over 80 community members gathered to speak to Mr Canavan at the Kimba Gateway Hotel on Thursday, with the process for determining whether the project had broad community support and the financial support budgeted for the district both major topics of conversation.

Several locals were concerned that no money is currently budgeted to provide support for the community should the project not go ahead.

Mr Canavan said he was committed to providing support for the non host community to transition out of the site selection process.

"I want to do something on that, we just haven't formally made a decision," he said.

The process for determining whether the project had broad community support faced criticism from some community members, with several making the point that nearby communities that would not have the chance to vote in the ballot would be impacted by the eventual decision, including some residents in the Wudinna district that live closer to the proposed sites than some in the Kimba district.

Mr Canavan said he would be looking at the possibility of directing some of the financial support available to assist the Kimba community through the site selection process to surrounding communities.

He encouraged anyone affected to make a submission, and said the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science had already received over 1000 submissions to consider in conjunction with the ballot which he would be looking at with their location in mind.

He reiterated that in regards to the community ballot result, he would not be giving a specific percentage figure ahead of time as to what the department would consider broad community support, instead weighing up the result alongside the submissions.

"It's a judgement call, we haven't put a figure on it because we're not asking for just a simple majority," he said.

"I'm not going to make a judgement before I see (the submissions) and that process closes."

Mr Canavan indicated the government would be looking for a result "a lot more" than a simple majority in favour.

The Kimba District Council's decision to proceed with the ballot was not mirrored by the Flinders Ranges Council, which has requested an independent analysis be conducted before their ballot.

Mr Canavan said the Kimba ballot would not be delayed to run concurrently with the Flinders Ranges ballot.

"I've come to the view that it's not appropriate to hold up this community because of that decision," he said.

He said it was possible a Kimba site could be chosen before consultation was completed in Hawker.

"That's a consequence of the Flinders Ranges Council asking for that information," he said.

Those residing within the Kimba District Council area who are enrolled to vote in federal, state and council elections will be issued a ballot, and out of town ratepayers who enrolled for the proposed ballot in 2018 are still eligible.

The Kimba District Council will be contacting out of town ratepayers to make sure eligible voters have enrolled by the deadline at midday, September 13.