ALP and Coalition green light AUKUS nuclear waste dumps without public consultation

Australian Greens

Labor and the Coalition are seeking to pass legislation that can make anywhere in Australia a nuclear waste dumping ground with no public consultation, no First Nations input and no warning.

The Senate report released today into the Australian Nuclear Power Safety Bill 2023 highlights the lack of protections for communities as Labor seeks to create a new defence nuclear regulator as part of their deal on AUKUS nuclear submarines.

Today’s majority Senate report supports giving the Defence Minister the power to designate anywhere in Australia a high-level nuclear-dumping ground with no public consultation needed.

The report highlights, but does not recommend addressing, the conflict of interest at the core of this new nuclear submarine regulator, due to it answering to the Minister of Defence who is also the Minister responsible for the operation of nuclear submarines.

The Senate committee report acknowledged that this Bill was drafted by the Albanese Government to allow the dumping of UK and US high-level nuclear waste in Australia. Since this Bill was introduced the Greens have been calling for this to be removed and, while it is positive to see this recommended as a change, the Albanese Government is yet to accept this amendment.

Senator David Shoebrdige, Greens spokesperson for Defence said: “This just shows the lengths the Albanese Government will go to try and keep the failing AUKUS nuclear submarine deal sputtering along.”

“Labor is more than happy to team up with the Coalition and start opening up nuclear waste dumps around Australia without any public consultation.

“If this Bill becomes law you could wake up tomorrow and have a nuclear waste dump as a neighbour, simply because the Defence Minister singled your suburb out.

“This runs roughshod not just over local communities, but also First Nations peoples who have a long history of protecting their land from nuclear waste from Muckaty to Kimba.

“Until the Greens pointed it out last year the Government was trying to quietly push this bill through Parliament and allow the US and UK to dump high-level nuclear waste here. With this nuclear-powered cat out of the bag, the question is will Labor amend the Bill to protect Australia from this toxic future?

“The Greens issued a dissenting report opposing the Bill that highlighted the dangers of international nuclear waste dumping in Australia and the multiple failures in the structure that undermine the proposed new regulator’s independence.

“Under this Bill, the supposed ‘independent regulator’ of Defence can be run by someone who the day before was in the Defence, staffed by the Defence, and reporting to the Minister of Defence. It is absurd,” Senator Shoebridge said.

Read the Greens Dissenting report here.

/Public Release. View in full here.