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Radioactive waste authority must be stripped from Minister Ferguson

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 1 Mar 2011

The Australian Greens have urged the Government to strip responsibility for radioactive waste management from Resources Minister Martin Ferguson.

Greens spokesperson for nuclear affairs Senator Scott Ludlam said nuclear waste had been in the jurisdiction of successive science ministers for decades before the "extremely unorthodox" decision of the Government to place it in the hands of the resources minister after the 2007 election.

"This responsibility was mysteriously transferred from the science portfolio, where it had been for decades, to the resources and energy portfolio, where there was no expertise whatsoever. The results are clear to see - irresponsible decisions made with totally inadequate consultation with affected parties," he said.

With Muckaty Traditional Owner Mark Lane in the public gallery, Senator Ludlam asked Senator Nick Sherry on behalf of Minister Ferguson why the resources minister had not consulted with traditional owners over the waste dump planned for Muckaty Station.

"The first recommendation of the Senate committee that investigated the proposed dump was that no action be taken until the Minister met with all affected parties. That has never happened," said Senator Ludlam. "Traditional Owners have been forced to take action in the Federal Court. The very least the Government should have done is waiting to see who was found to be the Traditional Owners of the site itself. To me this approach speaks of Terra Nullius."

The Government ducked and weaved questions on why the responsibility for nuclear waste had been transferred to the resources and energy minister.

Senator Ludlam said Minister Ferguson's obsession with uranium mining and nuclear power constituted "all the more reason to return the authority over the nuclear waste dump to the Minister for Science".

Mr Mark Lane and Senator Ludlam are available for interviews this afternoon.


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