Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (16:32): I rise to speak to the AUKUS (Land Acquisition) Bill 2024 and note the speed at which this legislation is hoped to be expedited through the house. It is an unusual speed and barely used. I know we had similar speed with the anti-protester legislation in the not too distant past. and I guess on the same scale as this, to a degree, was the Olympic Dam legislation several years ago where BHP was proposing to open the top up of their mine at Roxby  Downs. It would have taken years of scraper operations. I think, from memory, it was a $30 billion project and it would have really opened up and realised great access to that copper resource which has—my son did tell me because he has worked up there—somewhere over 1,200 kilometres of underground roads; it might be closer to 1,600, and it is a great boon for the state.

We did work together in a bipartisan way in the parliament to do what we could to get that done. In the end, BHP pulled the trigger and did not do that, and I can understand why. I think it was going to be four years of scraper operations. As I said, I think it was a $30 billion project just to get down to the ore body. I know that the mine is at least 500 metres deep, so that is a lot of earth to move at a great cost. What we are seeing here with the land acquisition bill is compulsory acquisition on a grand scale. One of the clauses in relation to the bill is where certain requirements are not to apply in relation to the act. It states:

Except as may be prescribed by the regulations, no—

(a) assessment, decision, consent, approval, authorisation, certificate, licence, permit or permission; or

(b) consultation, notification or other procedural step,

I tell you what, if we applied that to every proposed development in South Australia we would get some stuff done but we would probably upset a lot of people. This is a bit of a tangent but, certainly, when it comes to planning decisions at a local government level—and I have talked to people seeking home approvals—it can take two years to get development approval, especially in this time where we are in a housing shortage. As I said, this is compulsory acquisition at a grand level.

I am interested that we were only presented with a briefing earlier today at lunchtime. I appreciate that we did get a briefing with people involved with the project, such as Renewal SA and people directly involved in setting this land up, because the AUKUS project is vital for the security of this country and it exemplifies the cohesion we have with Great Britain and America, and there are clues that Japan may come on board as well.

It is a huge project, notwithstanding any issues with production of Virginia-class submarines in America where there is talk about cutting back production per year. We will be purchasing I think three Virginia-class submarines. Obviously, these are nuclear-powered submarines but conventionally armed.

After all the decades and years of essentially not going anywhere with nuclear, I think it shows how not just the state but the country has matured in its broadening of its thoughts towards having nuclear reactors in submarines that can literally last for the full lifecycle of the submarines. They are saying these submarines will last about 32 years. The sealed unit will be transported to Australia as a sealed unit with other apparatus, with whatever operating features have to go in the submarine. Essentially, you are building a nuclear-powered steam turbine, so obviously there would be a lot of apparatus tied in with that.

Certainly, when I went on the trip to Finland, France and England about 10 years ago when there was a royal commission into storing nuclear spent rods or waste, whichever you want to call it, we certainly saw and heard about how that material is transported. It is all under international regulation. That involves waste and I am sure that a nuclear reactor would be under the same or very similar protocols where you would have at least double-skin boats and there are other protective measures that are in place that they are not going to let out, and I understand that. It is under very strict protocols.

You just have to think about Lucas Heights, the small reactor we have in Sydney, which had to do something with storing its own spent material. What happens is that, instead of double-shipping, a ship comes from somewhere overseas where there is obviously other spent material generated, bringing the amount of spent fuel that has been reconstituted to whichever level it might be, which might be just in spent rods that have sat underwater for many years to take the heat out of them.

It is interesting that I was told when I was overseas that a metre of water neutralises the radiation from rods that are just fresh, hot out of a reactor, but obviously they use far more safety balance when doing that. I saw pictures of spent rods essentially in swimming pool-like conditions, with people walking around with shirts and shorts and no worries.

We also visited some low and medium-level spent rod waste facilities in Finland, which were basically a couple of silos in the ground. About 20 metres was atop of them and 20 metres underneath—no big deal. It was just like a shed door where you went through, walked down and they have these two silos. There are yellow marks and they do give you a little radiation reader just in case there is something, and I understand that, but they take school groups down there to see what is going on.

Finland has a very mature nuclear industry with some big reactors. I may be wrong, but I think there were a couple of around 800 megawatt reactors, and they were building a 1,600 megawatt reactor. There was a contest for people to have the right to get the jobs to work on these facilities near their town. Back then, and it is probably getting close to 50 years now, they were saying that for 38 years they had been developing their protocols on burying their own waste.

We went underground 500 metres looking at how spent rods would be sealed in steel tubes which were wrapped in copper and placed in a slot 500 metres down with bentonite poured around that, cement poured around that, and there is probably another layer of cement. By this time the engineers are rolling their eyes knowing that the risk level is that low it is hardly worth talking about, and then you have 500 metres of rock to the surface.

I know I have spoken about it in this place before, but in the bigger picture I think that would be a far better option than all the spent fuel that is on the surface of the earth as we speak right around the world. Even in England, there are at least 120 tonnes of plutonium in the Lake District, one of the most beautiful places in England. This spent plutonium was generated in World War II in developing the first atom bombs and I certainly think that would be a far better thing buried deep underground.

Getting back to the material sent to Sydney, it will be processed material that was identical to unprocessed material that was spent fuel from the reactor which would be swapped over at Sydney. My understanding is that that is in a barrel-type structure and completely safe. You can walk right up to it evidently as spent fuel, and the other material would be sent back overseas to be processed because you can turn the spent rods into MOX fuel where it goes down to about 20 per cent of its size. It is completely unusable then, whereas spent fuel rods that are buried can be dug up and reprocessed and used in one way, shape or form. Finland used to export their spent rods to Russia, but for fairly obvious reasons they legislated not to do that anymore because they did not want them coming back in any way, shape or form.

In relation to this, I understand the acquisition that is going here. As I have said before in this house, my grandfather and father were involved in 1939 with land acquisition at Angle Vale for the weapons dumps near the Northern Expressway; that was Pederick land. Eleven years later, in 1950, some of the Edinburgh air base was one of our farms as well. My cousin said to me the other day that he thinks it is in the middle of the runway there somewhere. It is near Heaslip Road anyway, and I will have a look one day when I have a bit more time to see if I can find the old land titles.

So I certainly understand the bit about land acquisition, but that would have been a process I am sure even then to go through. Mind you, obviously in 1939 there was a war on and that may have been quickened as well.

As part of the whole process of the land swap and acquisition, one thing that disturbs me is what has happened at Keswick. Certainly, in talking to people serving in the Army and veterans from the Army, one thing that is notable is the ties that individuals from this state have to Keswick Barracks and the history and camaraderie of the units and the people who have served there over time. I have been to several functions and memorabilia days, and they do a great job there.

But evidently Keswick has been done and dusted. It has been transferred, and it is already on a leaseback process. That has certainly caused some angst. Running into a couple of senior Army people and meeting with them one day, I was quite disturbed by one comment, when they had a meeting with the government. I do not know who they met with, but they told me the comment they got back when they talked about the military history in relation to Keswick. They were told the answer was 'white man's history'.

I find that a bit offensive, saying Keswick is just about white man's history. I think it is a slap in the face for our Aboriginal service men and women who have served over the years, going back to World War I before they could even vote. I have talked about Peter Craigie in this place, whose grandfather and my great-grandfather are one and the same person on different lines. He was a World War I serviceman and Aboriginal. His mother was Bunny Roxborough from South West Queensland. Obviously with a name like Craigie, his father was a Scotsman, from the Scottish side of my family.

I found that disturbing, if nothing else, because that answer demeans the service of people who could not even vote. I am glad that that has changed, many years ago. Aboriginal people, especially in earlier times, were prepared to lay down their lives for their country when they could not even vote. All service men and women who serve are prepared to lay down their life, but when you are not allowed to vote, I think that is next level. I remember, years ago now, when we repatriated Miller Mack's body from West Terrace Cemetery. He was a World War I soldier, who died after he got home from—I might have it wrong—tuberculosis. That was quite a moving ceremony, transferring Miller Mack to the Raukkan cemetery at Narrung.

Keswick has happened. There is that leaseback. I know that there is much concern amongst the Army. We had that conversation in the briefing. With the change in world dynamics, we see those many service men and women who have been transferred to Edinburgh in recent years getting told to up stumps to Darwin and Townsville. Quite frankly, I think—well, I know; I do not just think—there is a lot of difficulty for many of those families who have found it very handy living here, either in or around Adelaide near the base. It is a fact that military life is tough. People get shifted to many, many different locations, obviously depending on the length of their career. It does certainly have a huge effect on families.

Certainly, it would have been much better to have had this bill introduced a couple of weeks earlier. I am a bit stunned that we did not have that opportunity. Everyone has been talking about AUKUS for what almost seems like years, but probably many months is a better description. Before that, we talked about submarine building. Obviously, the option was to go with the French diesel subs and now it is the nuclear-powered ones heading into the future.

I certainly take my hat off to people who serve in the submarine fleet. I had a chance to go on a Collins class submarine recently, and you will not get me going underwater in a tin can, I can assure you. I am probably a bit taller than most submariners anyway, but when you see that sailors still sleep amongst the torpedoes on very narrow bunks it is interesting. I take my hat off to everyone who serves, but especially those people who are prepared to go away in submarines.

I note that as long as nuclear submarines have food on board they do not need to go home. I have heard of deployments of six months. I said, 'How do you get on with that?' They said, 'You just stack food down the walkways. You put a layer of something, whether it is light wood or something over that, and you put another row of tins.' They did make a bit of joke; they said, 'Fresh food doesn't last long.' I guess that is gone in the first week. I really take my hat off to people who are prepared to do that service.

This is extraordinary, as I said before, in the fact that this acquisition is being done with the local council involved and no consultation whatsoever. The most interesting thing is that the transfer will take place without an agreed value on the land. I note the various clauses in the bill that state how that will be operated. Essentially, it will be on agreed market value. That has to come through the negotiations after things move, but the idea is to get the ink on the paper.

It is the reverse of any other deal I have heard of. I do understand to a degree why it is happening, but I think we could have had more notice, especially in opposition. I know that we are going through the process here so it can be laid on the table once it goes to the upper house, so there may be some more questions raised in the other place.

Notwithstanding that, with the very brief knowledge that we have—and I do acknowledge the briefing that we had—I note our support for this, because the defence of our country is something we must do. I just hope that as the negotiations get underway for working out the agreed market value they are completed in the proper spirit. I know there is going to be a bit of to-and-fro. I am sure the right outcome will come, but it is certainly the reverse of most deals that get done. In saying that, we do support the bill.

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