Nuclear Waste

Legislative Council 15th of November 2016

Question Time

Nuclear waste

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 15:08 :15 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation on how many times Aboriginal communities will have to say no.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: As members are well aware, the recent report of the South Australian citizens' jury, the second citizens' jury on nuclear waste, in its final report considered under what circumstances, if any, South Australia could pursue the opportunity to store and dispose of nuclear waste from other countries. I refer the minister to the note in regard to Aboriginal consent within that final citizens' jury report that said that 'the majority of Aboriginal communities have already said no and the government needs to respect that.'

That report notes that 32 communities have specifically said no. The minister, of course, also has the option to talk to the Co-commissioners for Aboriginal Engagement, and I certainly would be interested to hear what they have had to say on the issue. I ask the minister:

1.Has he consulted with the Co-commissioners for Aboriginal Engagement on the issue of a high-level nuclear waste dump, and what have they said?

2.Has he written and assured those 32 communities that have already said no, that they will not have their voice ignored and that their no will be heard loud and clear, or will they, like Warriena Wright to Gable Tostee, have to say it 33 times in this state?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy) ( 15:09 :48 ): I thank the honourable member for her question. I have spoken to many, many Aboriginal individuals, and people representing various Aboriginal communities on many topics, including their views on the nuclear industry in South Australia.

I think it is a mistake if one takes an Aboriginal view as an homogenous statewide opinion, that there is an Aboriginal view on issues. I think that fundamentally misunderstands Aboriginal people and the nature of Aboriginal communities, that you could try to say this is the Aboriginal view, no more than you could say that this is the view of all South Australians. I just don't think it's fair and I think it completely misunderstands it to say that there is one single view.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I appreciate the interjections. I hope the interjections are coming from a place of ignorance, not mild racism in thinking that there is one particular view on this.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! The interjections should come from nowhere.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Certainly I think it's the right thing to do, to give local Aboriginal communities a right of veto, to say no, and that's what has happened.

NUCLEAR WASTE

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 15:11 :02 ): Supplementary: will the minister assure those 32 communities that have already said no that their voice will be heard?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy) ( 15:11 :12 ): Absolutely. If a local Aboriginal community says no, it won't happen there, even if the debate went any further, which it's not at the moment.

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr McLachlan.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! Let's have a little respect for the Hon. Mr McLachlan who is on his feet.

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: Galant, I might add.

The PRESIDENT: And debonair.

The Hon. K.J. Maher: Nice haircut.

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