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Labor/Liberal's Nuke Nightmare (Read 579 times)

Australian Politics

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Labor/Liberal's Nuke Nightmare
May 9th, 2011 at 9:17pm
THE federal government says it's not trying to hide a Senate debate on nuclear waste behind the smokescreen of the 2011 budget.

The Australian Greens have accused the government of deliberately listing the Senate debate on draft laws to set up Australia's first nuclear waste dump at Muckaty Station, near Tennant Creek, tomorrow, just as the budget will be handed down.

"It's a sign that the government's got something to hide. It's curious timing," Senator Scott Ludlam told AAP.

"When the rest of the country will be rightly examining the state of the nation's finances, (Resources Minister) Martin Ferguson wants to set up the nation's first ever radioactive nuclear waste dump.

"He's doing it with the full agreement and complicity of the prime minister."

But Mr Ferguson hit back at Senator Ludlam's claim, labelling it "highly disingenuous and completely untrue".

Mr Ferguson said he had hoped debate on the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill - which he introduced into parliament in October - would have concluded weeks ago.

"It is not for me to decide the day on which specific bills are listed for debate," Mr Ferguson said.

"This is a matter determined by the Leader of the Senate and Manager of Government Business in the Senate, in consultation with the Senate Parliamentary Liaison Officer - as the Greens well know."

Senator Ludlam said the Greens would seek to make a range of amendments to the bill, including the introduction of a commission to determine the safest way of dealing with uranium waste material.

He also said the bill should not be debated until after the Federal Court delivers a decision about which Aboriginal groups are the rightful custodians and traditional owners of Muckaty Station.

"The federal government should do the traditional owners the courtesy of waiting until that dispute is resolved," he said.

Mr Ferguson said it was not for the government to decide on questions of traditional ownership.

"As I have said consistently, I will respect the decision of the court, whatever it may be."

Labor had promised to throw out the Howard government's plans to establish a radioactive waste site at Muckaty but backflipped last year.
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