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5AA Ray Hadley Morning Show

13 November 2020

Ray Hadley

Subject: Radioactive waste storage facility, Senate votes


RAY HADLEY: Yesterday morning we had Senator Pauline Hanson who said that, with her two votes in the Senate, she’s going to torpedo the Federal Government’s bid to build a radioactive waste dump in regional SA. We were contacted by the Federal Minister, and as usual we give everybody the opportunity of speaking on any matter. Let's talk with the Federal Resources Minister, Keith Pitt. Keith, good morning.

KEITH PITT: Hi, good morning to you, and good morning to your listeners.

RAY HADLEY: So, what's your reaction to Senator Hanson saying, guys, sorry, I'm ditching it?

KEITH PITT: Well, we’ll continue to work with the crossbench senators, as we always have, in a respectful way. But my greatest disappointment remains the Labor Party in opposition, who have been bipartisan on this issue for decades, and have now walked away simply because Mr Albanese’s under leadership pressure. I think it's a disgrace.

RAY HADLEY: So, are you going to try and change Pauline Hanson's mind? Because-

KEITH PITT: [Interrupts] Oh, well-

RAY HADLEY: Because she's basically said, look, my two votes, no go. Where do you go to from here? Okay, you’re disappointed with Labor, and they've got their issues – and we'll talk about that with one of our analysts later on today. But where does that leave you?

KEITH PITT: Well, we’ll continue to move forward in terms of the legislation. It’s my intention to put the bill into the Senate in the next sitting weeks. Now, obviously we don't control the Senate, they control their own agenda, but that’s the intention.

RAY HADLEY: Alright. So, you'll put it in the Senate. And if Pauline keeps to her word, it’ll fail. Then what?

KEITH PITT: Well, it will depend on what happens. I mean, I'm sure there'll be groups looking to make amendments and all the normal processes that happen in the Senate, and then we'll work our way through it from there. But the reality is that this facility is absolutely necessary; it is a national piece of infrastructure that will last for more than a century. After four decades of trying to secure a site, we have an area which has been [indistinct] in, an area where we have broad community support, where it's technically feasible. And the people of Kimba – and I was there just last week – just want a decision; they want to get on with it; and, they want some certainty.

RAY HADLEY: Alright. So it’ll go to the Senate; you'll do the vote; and if Ms Hanson sticks to her word, what happens? You'll just keep reintroducing it? Or you'll move on?

KEITH PITT: Well, it’ll depend on how it goes. I mean, the Senate’s one of those places where there'll be a range of amendments, a range of votes, and a lot of contributions and discussion - we'll see where that lands. Simon Birmingham as our Government Leader of Business in the Senate will determine how that process runs, but it's our intention to put it up. I still don't think that people will vote against what is necessary to maintain nuclear medicine and nuclear medicine treatment for cancer in this country. If you want to use-

RAY HADLEY: [Interrupts] Well, hang on. How does putting a waste dump, or not putting one there, at Kimba, have any effect on nuclear medicine?

KEITH PITT: Well, it's a very straightforward contribution. We put out around 12,000 doses of nuclear medicine every single week, two out of three Australians will utilise it either in PET scans or cancer treatment. We had a roundtable with all the radiation technologists here in Canberra on Monday, and they were very, very clear. Some of them have got radioactive waste stored in their hospitals longer than they've been alive. The president of the South Australian AMA said very clearly, if we don't get this done within a period of time, well, people will have a very adverse effect, i.e. they will die. So, if we want to use the best available technology, and 80 per cent of this waste comes from the use of nuclear medicine, we have to deal with the waste - it's a really simple equation. I want people to have the best available treatment, I want them to be able to utilise whatever the best technology is when they are in a very desperate circumstance. To do that, we need the waste facility, and that's our intention.

RAY HADLEY: Keith Pitt, thank you. That's the Federal Resources Minister.