Majority support for Kimba nuclear waste facility

A majority of the Kimba community has voted in favour of having a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility at one of two sites in the district.

The results of the non-binding postal ballot declared on Thursday were 61.58 per cent in favour of the facility.

However those opposed to the proposal do not believe this constitutes "broad community support".

The No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA Committee said in a statement the result proved the community remained divided over the issue.

We have always been firm that any result under 65 per cent could in no way be perceived as broad support...

No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA Committee

"(Resources Minister Matt Canavan) has always promised that the National Radioactive Waste Facility would not be sited where broad community support did not exist and with nearly 40 per cent of residents saying no, this clearly cannot be proven in Kimba.

"Over the past four years Minister Canavan and his department have wasted unacceptable amounts of time, money and recourses attempting to coerce our community into accepting this facility.

"The stress his flawed and divisive process has caused is clearly evident in our once cohesive town.

"We have always been firm that any result under 65 per cent could in no way be perceived as broad support, he should not impose this facility on 40 per cent of our community who don't want it, and it is time for the Minister to find another solution for Australia's waste."

Kimba mayor Dean Johnson said the council would pass on the results of the ballot to the Department of Industry Innovation and Science, and Resources Minister Matt Canavan.

Kimba mayor Dean Johnson said the council would pass on the results of the ballot to the Department of Industry Innovation and Science, and Resources Minister Matt Canavan.

More than 90 per cent of the 824 people eligible to vote participated in the ballot with 745 ballot papers returned to the Australian Electoral Commission and 735 formal votes accepted.

Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said the results of the Kimba ballot indicated "considerable support for the proposed facility in the district".

He said the result would be considered alongside submissions and feedback from stakeholders including neighbours, councils and local groups, and Traditional Owners.

"Submissions remain open and the department will continue to consult on this proposal and consider other technical information," Mr Canavan said.

"The ballot to be held by the Flinders Ranges Council will proceed on November 11 and conclude on December 12. Results from that ballot will also be taken into consideration.

"I expect to make a decision early next year."

The ballot to be held by the Flinders Ranges Council began on Monday and will conclude on December 12.

Kerri Cliff from the Working for Kimba's Future group said the result showed support for the proposal had strengthened since the previous ballot held in 2017.

"I was pleased to see there was not just an increase in the number of votes returned but also a four per cent increase in those who support the facility," she said.

She said a yes vote of more than 60 per cent was usually considered a very strong majority, likening the ballot to the 2017 voluntary same sex marriage plebiscite which saw 61.6 per cent support.

"In other situations this is a very strong majority."

She said the ballot was "just a part of the minister's process", and it was important it was considered in conjunction with submissions and other surveys.

"It does have to be a part of the process, not the be all and end all," she said.

She said while there were strong opinions on both sides, she believed the community had moved forward and remained strong, citing recent community achievements including two national Grey Nomad Awards and the Kimba Mental Health and Wellbeing's SA Community Achievement award.

"I can't see a community divided when we've just won three to four state and national awards," she said.

"That to me indicates anything but a divided community."

However, she said closures of businesses in recent times and the effects of the drought showed the importance of new industry in maintaining a strong local economy.

She said now the community had their say, it was up to the minister to make the call.

"We do need to be a strong and caring community no matter what happens."

Kimba mayor Dean Johnson said the council would pass on the results to the Department of Industry Innovation and Science, and Resources Minister Matt Canavan for consideration, and he expected a decision about the final site to be made early next year.

"We are incredibly proud of our community and we thank them for engagement and participation in this ballot."

This story Majority support for Kimba nuclear waste facility first appeared on Eyre Peninsula Tribune.