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A new University of Queensland report provides insights into communities surrounding nominated sites at Kimba and Hawker, for the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science commissioned the reports to capture locally relevant measures of benefits and impacts of the facility, should it be delivered in one of these areas.
The reports, which were released today, consolidate a variety of government data sources that go to trends in employment, education, safety, ageing and household income.
Interviews conducted with people in the communities examined the opportunities and risks that would stem from the project, how they can be addressed, and how community strengths could be protected.
Bruce Wilson, Principal Advisor to the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Taskforce, said that the reports provided both an important data set and baseline for the consultation.
“One in two Australians, on average, will need nuclear medicine in their lifetime, and we need to consolidate by-products from its production and other research in a safe, job-creating facility,” he said.
“We will not build the facility in a place that does not have broad support from the local community. This is a new industry that will require an ongoing workforce of 45 people.
“The report confirms that the range of issues the Department has been engaging with both communities about, over several years, are the right ones, and consultation continues.
“The report provides insight into the economic situation and trends in these communities, the values in these communities and the reactions, to date, to the proposed facility.
“From a statistical perspective, Hawker, Quorn and Kimba share challenges with each other and regional Australia when it comes to population numbers and ageing, employment opportunities and the like.
“And it is clear from some of the responses that some people see the proposed facility as something that will help the community meet the challenges of the future, while others think it would present new ones.
“Supporters of the proposal linked it to benefits such as new medical services, becoming a ‘government town’, flow on jobs, and diversity of employment opportunities.
“Those against it cited concerns that the community discussion had impacted on relationships, and that the facility could impact on property values and reputation.
“Importantly, another thing that came through is that after the extensive information provision, some felt that initial concerns about matters such as safety and security had been addressed.
“This report forms an important community baseline, outlines strategies to address perceived issues, and will be considered in decision-making about whether the facility should proceed in one of these areas.”
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