Federal member of parliament Keith Pitt has been named as the new Resources Minister for Australia, and says he is looking forward to engaging with the Kimba community around the development of the Napandee National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.
His appointment comes after former resources minister Matt Canavan stepped down from his cabinet position to support fellow Nationals member Barnaby Joyce in an unsuccessful leadership spill.
Mr Canavan's resignation came two days after he announced Kimba's Napandee site to be the location of the radioactive waste facility.
Mr Pitt said he was deeply honoured to be in the role and join the ministry.
"The resources sector in Australia is a dynamic industry with great opportunity to further develop and drive our nation forward," he said.
"I am also looking forward to engaging with the Kimba community around the Napandee site which has been selected to host the national radioactive waste facility.
"I do acknowledge that there remains some opposition and division within the Kimba community, however our government is committed to ensuring the project proceed in a way that recognises and respects these views.
"I understand while there is broad community support in Kimba, some have concerns, particularly amongst the Aboriginal and agricultural communities.
"Now a site has been identified, there will be new opportunities for people who might want to be involved through, for example, the Regional Consultative Committee (RCC), the different funding packages, and aspects of the facility development and operation."
Mr Pitt said he was prioritising visiting the Kimba community and had discussed the issue with Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey.
"As a priority, I look forward to going to Kimba to meet directly with community members who have been engaging with this process," he said.
"I appreciate the thoughtful and considered approach the local community has taken in recent years.
"I will work with all community members to deliver this facility and the benefits that come with it.
As a priority, I look forward to going to Kimba to meet directly with community members...Resources Minister Keith Pitt
"I have also discussed this issue with the local federal member, Rowan Ramsey, and will continue working closely with him into the future."
He said the department will maintain the local office and determine any other channels locals want to make sure their views are heard and they stay informed of the progress.
"In addition, community consultation is a key part of the environmental and radiological regulatory approval process that will be undertaken before construction can commence," he said.
Mr Pitt said he would now be working to introduce legislative amendments that specifies Napandee as the the site for the facility and to legislate the establishment of a community fund to support Kimba.
The $20 million community fund was announced in July 2018 as part of the $31 million community development package, and Mr Pitt said it will be managed by a community-controlled entity rather than the federal government.
"The...fund is designed to support long-term infrastructure and development priorities for Kimba," he said.
"My department will be working with the consultative committee and the RCC and will consult with the local and South Australian governments to settle the specific entity structure and governance."