Kimba jobs a hot topic

PROTEST: Locals as well as Former Grey MP Barry Wakelin and Giles MP Eddie Hughes protesting against the Kimba nuclear dump earlier this year.
PROTEST: Locals as well as Former Grey MP Barry Wakelin and Giles MP Eddie Hughes protesting against the Kimba nuclear dump earlier this year.

Debate has ensured over the federal government's promise of bringing 45 jobs to Kimba with the establishment of a nuclear dump at Napandee, after the latest Senate inquiry revealed there is no legislative requirement to continuously staff a low-level radioactive waste facility.

The Senate Inquiry into the federal government's Nuclear Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) met on Tuesday, with Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick reading the following statement from ARPANSA:

"There is no explicit requirement in the ARPANSA or ANSTO legislation or guidance that prescribes that a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility requires continuous presence of staff for either security or safety purposes."

Senator Patrick was questioning the agency over whether the NRWMF at Kimba could be run remotely.

"They're effectively saying that there's nothing that prevents that from happening, as long as they satisfy particular criteria," he said.

The federal government has long promised that the facility will create 45 jobs, and while Senator Patrick does not dispute the idea that the jobs will be available, he doubts they will last.

"The CEO of the site may end up being repatriated back to the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency in Adelaide, and I think some of the other roles may be pulled back and the site will turned into a remote facility two or three years down the track," Senator Patrick said.

"Kimba locals should look at how the government is willing to shift 700 submarine jobs from Adelaide to Perth on a political whim.

"Having seen federal and state government services evaporate from country towns time after time, we know governments can't be trusted to keep their promises.

"The writing is on the wall, and the wall hasn't even been built yet."

Senator Patrick believes this will be a likely course of action for the government because it's a way to trim costs and achieve savings.

"They will look at those ARPANSA rules and say 'this is not a bad option,'" he said.

Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt said the government was committed to 'creating every possible job we can, particularly in regional Australia and this project helps achieve that'.

"The 45 full time and secure jobs at the facility are based on advice from the nuclear experts from their 60 years' experience in the industry and based on staffing levels in similar facilities elsewhere," he said.

According to Mr Pitt the 45 new roles will comprise of 14 in security, 13 in waste operations and technicians, eight in site management and community outreach, five in environmental protection and quality control, and five in safety and radiation protection.

The jobs are also in addition to 35 jobs that will be based in Adelaide at the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA).

Kimba landowner Jeff Baldock said it was unlikely ARPANSA would want to strip away jobs in crucial areas such as security and site management.