Last Update: Wednesday, July 14, 2004. 8:59am (AEST)
Govt ditches nuclear dump plan
The Federal Government has abandoned its plan to build a single national radioactive waste dump in South Australia.
The Commonwealth wants each state and territory to build its own waste storage site.
The Federal Government has been under pressure to resolve the problem of where to build a national nuclear waste dump after a Federal Court ruling in June that the Commonwealth's compulsory acquisition of land for a site in South Australia was unlawful.
The Federal Government will not challenge that court decision.
Instead, the states and territories will be expected to build their own storage facilities for radioactive waste.
The Federal Government is now looking for a site to store its low and intermediate-level radioactive waste.
But with a string of marginal seats at risk, it has ruled out building any depository in South Australia.
Labor's science spokesman, Kim Carr, says the Government is trying to buy votes.
"This is a cynical device by the Government to try to get itself out of trouble with marginal seats in South Australia," he said.
"It doesn't address the fundamental problems that go to the issue of waste disposal in this country.
"The waste that is being stored around the country in filing cabinets, in hospital basements, in a whole lot of other places, needs to be dealt with - it has to go somewhere.
"Ninety per cent of that waste is Commonwealth waste. It is a complete farce for this Government now to say that instead of one waste dump, we are going to have eight. This is an extraordinary admission of failure."
Mr Carr says the Government did not consult the people of South Australia and has paid the price.
But South Australian Premier Mike Rann says the decision is a great victory that was needed to protect the state's international reputation.
"A few years ago I was in America and I saw in New York a whole series of postcards about neighbouring New Jersey which fingered them as the dump state," Mr Rann said.
"New Jersey became in a sense a joke because of it and people from the wine industry, food industry and our tourism industry pleaded with me to keep going with the fight."
Federal Finance Minister Nick Minchin says he is disappointed Mr Rann has not cooperated with the Commonwealth.
"We've come to this point because of the political opportunism of Mr Rann using the courts to obstruct and sabotage the implementation of a national policy," he said.
"The chances of us winning a High Court appeal are dubious at best. It would take months and months, if not a year or so, to even get to court and have this heard.
"We can't sit around waiting for that happen and there's every chance that we'd lose on appeal."
Meanwhile, the Federal Opposition says the decision puts the new Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney in jeopardy and the Australian Democrats' spokeswoman on science, Natasha Stott-Despoja, hopes that is the case.
"Lucas Heights has been supported by the Labor Party and the Government so they are down the track in terms of their construction plans and the money has of course been allocated to the new reactor," Senator Stott-Despoja said.
"The Democrats have said all along, you cannot proceed without a waste disposal management and storage proposal."