Financial compensation and incentives to communities
This chapter explores the proposed financial compensation to be offered
to the landowners of potential sites and money available to communities through
the Community Benefits Programme and the Community Development Package.
Financial compensation to land owners
If a Minister declares land nominated under the National Radioactive
Waste Management Act 2012 (the Act) as the site selected for the NRWMF, the
Commonwealth may acquire the land or extinguish or affect existing rights and
interests. As a result, the Commonwealth is required to pay a reasonable amount
The Nominations of Land Guidelines propose offering compensation
to landholders determined by reference to the process for establishing 'land
value' in the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 plus a premium of three times
that value to a landholder. This approach only applies to those holding
freehold, a Crown lease or native title in the site selected for the NRWMF.
DIIS indicated that one of the purposes of the offer of compensation is
to generate a range of nominations from landholders. It also provides a
landholder who is considering nomination with a clear and upfront understanding
of the amount of compensation they will be offered if their land is selected.
Further, DIIS submitted that:
...the approach taken
in the Nomination Guidelines of offering to landholders a premium over and
above land value is reasonable and appropriate because it recognises that land
value by itself unlikely to satisfy the requirement to offer "a reasonable
amount of compensation" as required under the Act, and accordingly seeks
to wrap up other relevant compensation factors into a single figure.
At the Canberra hearing, DIIS noted that the land value plus three times
the land value was just an estimate and that, ultimately, it would be the
landowner who would nominate the value of a compensation claim which would then
be assessed by DIIS.
A number of stakeholders considered that the financial compensation
offered to individual landowners to host the NRWMF was fair and appropriate.
Some stakeholders even observed that the loss of land to host a facility has
the potential to reduce productivity to a level in excess of the financial
Indeed, the nomination of land could be considered to be altruistic given the
relatively small amount of land required for the NRWMF and the disruption to
existing farming operations.
Mr Andrew Baldock, one of the nominators of the site at 'Napandee',
described the financial compensation offered by the Commonwealth:
...as being fair and
equitable and very much in line with any agricultural land sales for
alternative use such as residential or industrial developments.
landholders we understand the site will be positioned on the most suitable
100ha portion of the nominated land holding. This is likely to have a
considerable impact on the efficiencies of our farming operations and as a
result quickly eroding any economic gain from the land sale.
Mr Andrew Baldock went on to conclude that:
This level of
financial compensation is unlikely to be a driving factor for any nominating
landholder especially in low value landholdings such as Kimba and Hawker. The
100ha site nominated equates to less than 1.4% of our farm operation, the sale
of this land makes very little difference to our financial position.
Similarly, Mr Brett Rayner, a nominator of the site at 'Lyndhurst',
commented that 'It's never been about the money'.
Mr Jeff Baldock indicated that:
It's about the future
of our community...our driving motivation is that there will be a well-serviced
town in this community for our grandkids and their kids and their grandkids to
grow up in.
Mrs Heather Baldock outlined the potential employment prospects for
So many of our young
people leave our community. It is well known that 30 per cent of [Eyre
Peninsula's] young people leave to seek jobs and to seek other employment. To
have additional opportunities for our youth, but also for other people who may
wish to return to Kimba, is just a great thing. And these jobs will continue
for many years. It's not a seasonal thing. In our community, we are heavily
reliant on agriculture, in a low-rainfall area. Those of us who support this
project see this as an opportunity to create some sustainability for us in the
long term. It drought-proofs us to a certain extent, I guess. It is one of
those opportunities that rarely come along that ensures our community continues
to thrive and maybe even grow.
Mr Ian Carpenter highlighted that the value of land around Hawker was
relatively inexpensive, so the sale of land for the NRWMF was not a seen as a
financial motivation, even where compensation equated to four times the land
Mr Bruce Wilson from DIIS supported this view:
I don't think it
would be fair to characterise the compensation package likely to be paid out as
a tremendous amount of money. The land values are probably, for 100 hectares,
not that significant. Certainly one landowner has told me that the amount of
money he expects to be paid—which he's happy to donate to agricultural research
in the area—wouldn't cover his fertiliser bill for a year on his properties.
This isn't a big money-spinner for these landowners.
Other stakeholders objected to the proposal to pay
landowners a multiple of the land value.
The No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA group argued that:
When a landholder is
receiving a financial incentive of 4 times the value of the land as well as
compensation for land access through the site assessment stage it isn't a
A number of submissions also outlined broader effects that could result
in negative economic consequences:
the loss of value to the spectacular tourist lands of the
the damage to farming country near Kimba;
the harm to below surface water tables;
the adverse effect on the prices of livestock and crops, caused
by proximity to radioactive waste; and
the adverse effect on prices of land adjoining the site.
Concerns were raised by various stakeholders that land could be
nominated, with associated financial gain, by an absentee landlord:
Nuclear Free Alliance] is deeply concerned that, as in the case of the proposed
site at Wallerberdina Station in the Flinders Ranges, a site may be nominated
by an absentee landlord with no ties to the local community and apparently no
concern for the division and stress that the decision creates.
Similarly, the Conservation Council SA submitted that:
It is of deep concern
that this person can receive financial gain for the siting of a radioactive
waste facility which will impact the local community that he is not part of.
Concerns were also raised that a former politician might financially
benefit from the siting of a NRWMF on their land.
Some submissions argued for greater transparency around the financial
incentives paid to land nominators. In relation to payments
made to land nominators during the assessment phase of the site selection
process, DIIS submitted that:
The only payment that
is currently being paid to landholders is an ex gratia payment of around $2500
as compensation for disruption at the site throughout the site selection
process, resulting from activities such as: entering land—driving on, and
flying aircraft over the site; constructing and rehabilitating bores; operating
drills and collecting samples.
The committee recognises that the Act requires the government to pay a
reasonable amount of compensation to the person whose right or interest has
been acquired, extinguished or otherwise affected.
The committee notes that it is unfortunate for a former politician,
particularly one with significant exposure to the nuclear waste issues, to
place the government in the invidious position of deciding whether he should
receive financial compensation for hosting a NRWMF on his property, thereby
further politicising an already contentious process.
The committee considers that the proposal to compensate the landholder
at four times the value of the land is appropriate given that the location of a
NRWMF has the potential to reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of any farm
operations on the remaining landholding. The committee does not consider that
the proposed financial compensation, even at four times land value, has been a
strong motivational factor in landholders seeking to nominate sites to host a
That said, it will be landowner that ultimately negotiates a price with
the government for any land to be acquired for a NRWMF. As such, the committee
considers that an independent valuation of the land be undertaken to ensure
that the financial compensation is consistent with the original proposal to
compensate the landholder at four times the value of the land.
The committee recommends that the government undertake an
independent valuation of the land to be acquired to ensure that the financial
compensation is consistent with the original proposal to compensate the
landholder at four times the land value.
Financial incentives to communities
The Community Benefits Programme (CBP) was established in response to
community feedback that indicated the site selection process causes short-term
According to DIIS:
The CBP was
established for the second phase of the project after communities have
indicated they wish to proceed in the site selection process, the Minister has
accepted the nomination, and where technical assessments and community
engagement activities are being conducted. The CBP provides grants to potential
host communities which have progressed to being shortlisted as part of the site
selection process. The projects funded under the CBP must demonstrate that they
will have a social and economic benefit to the local communities with any
programme evaluation that is undertaken to be assessed in accordance with
established guidelines on this basis. The assessment process includes input
from the local consultative committees.
DIIS indicated that there has never been any intention to measure
whether the CBP affects community sentiment. That said, DIIS commented that:
take a long term perspective in assessing the merits of the Facility for their
community and that...people do not see the fund as a material consideration
influencing overall community support for the Facility.
The CBP is delivered by AusIndustry, thereby maintaining arms-length
independence from the NRWMF project team to avoid any perception of conflict of
interest in administering grant payments and to avoid any perception that the
project team is using the CBP to influence community relationships.
To date, $4 million has been provided to projects in the Hawker
community, while $2 million has been provided to projects in Kimba.
DIIS considers that the CBP has been developed with regard to
international experience which recognised the importance of supporting regional
needs in a way that is seen at a local level to be fair and reasonable.
In addition to the CBP, the government announced on 23 July 2018 that a
Community Development Package (CDP) of $31 million will be available to
the community successfully chosen to host the NRWMF. The CDP will consist of:
an $8 million Community Skills and Development Program,
delivering grants over the four year licencing and construction period to
maximise the community benefits from the construction and operation of the
an increased $20 million NRWMF Community Fund, to deliver long
term infrastructure and development benefits to the community; and
up to $3 million over three years from the government's
Indigenous Advancement Strategy to strengthen Indigenous skills training and
cultural heritage protection in the successful community.
Community Benefits Programme
Submitters involved in the Independent Assessment Panel provided some
justification for the CBP. Dr Ben Heard was supportive of the concept in
building trust within the community:
community benefit fund and facilitating prompt assessment and funding of
projects is a tangible demonstration of trustworthiness. Trust is essential for
building community confidence.
Professor Peta Ashworth noted that the competitive process of the CBP
and the input of the Consultative Committee in each respective community helped
to facilitate the fair distribution of the benefits package in an open and
Some stakeholders did not consider the CBP to have influenced opinion. For example, Mr
Matthew and Mrs Megan Lienert submitted:
...we believe although
the community benefit program is a welcome addition to the process we do not
believe that people have based their support or non-support on this program.
Similarly, Mr Daryl Koch considered that:
The community benefit
program is an added bonus for being in the process and will benefit many
community projects...We are all smart enough not to vote yes to have the facility
built in our district for the promise of money.
Mrs Heather Baldock outlined the benefits of the CBP to the Kimba
...whether or not we go
ahead with the facility, being able to access the community benefit program
through AusIndustry, the $2 million that came to our community—we are a small
community and we do often have trouble attracting funds—in itself was a huge
boon to our community. Thirty-three different projects actually got funding
through that, ranging from health through to social to sporting to economic
Similarly, Mrs Chelsea Haywood considered that the CBP in Hawker had
been ideal for community groups:
We're a small
community; it's always the same people digging into their pockets to help these
groups. It gave them another outlet to get some funds to do things that might
take this community 10 to 20 years to get.
However, other stakeholders believed that the CBP had influenced
For example, Mrs Barbara Walker noted the division within the community
associated with the CBP:
Many think the
Community Benefits Program is divisive and creates an impression of bribery.
Some businesses needing monetary assistance, regardless of their 'for' or
'against' opinions, are happy the money has been offered and therefore feel it
is up for the taking. Others refuse to apply as they regard it as bribe money.
Mr Bob Tulloch raised concerns about the distribution of CBP grants in
the Hawker region:
Everyone living in
this area is aware of the social disruption this process has caused. The
community's contribution has come at a high cost. Therefore, if there were to
be any benefits arising from this process, such as the Community Benefits
Grants, you would like to believe that the DIIS would want to act true to their
words in the above statement, and make sure all community benefits grants,
would be distributed evenly across the whole community.
Sadly, this is not
the case, with 72% of all funding from both grants (over $4m) being
directed into the Hawker Community.
The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance noted that:
In areas struggling
for funding for basic access to and upgrades of facilities, it is highly likely
some community members will be swayed by income they would not otherwise
ATLA discussed the impact of the CBP on their community:
benefit program" has been a disaster for our region. It has caused a great
deal of stress and arguments. ATLA was harassed for support letters from
non-Aboriginal groups and individuals who wanted to access these funds and they
thought having our support would assist them.
Community Development Package
Some stakeholders were sceptical regarding the government's announcement
of the $31 million CDP just one month before the final community sentiment
The Flinders Local Action Group asserted that:
On the 23rd July, the
Minister announced an increased benefit package, totalling $31 million, for the
community that is selected to accept the waste facility. This came on the
morning of the deadline set by both the Kimba and Flinders Ranges Councils to
accept a role in administering the community vote on the NRWMF, set for the
20th August. Both Councils had agreed to assist on the condition that the
Department provided more information to the public to help people with their
The increase in the
benefit package arose from the Kimba Council's
dis-satisfaction with the original, one-off, offer of $10 million to the
selected community. Kimba's position was that the amount, and conditions on how
this money was to be administered and distributed, was greatly inadequate. This
new offer, although tripled, stills falls short of what Kimba Council requested
in a letter to then Minister Frydenburg on December 16th 2015.
The Flinders Local Action Group went on to conclude that:
This $31 million
offer to the selected community, coming as it did, on the day of both Council's
deadline, is viewed with a great deal of cynicism. On the same day, the
Department posted links on their website to 18 Factsheets and 8 Reports. It is
assumed that these were also provided to the respective Councils to fulfil the
23rd July deadline.
The Azark Project was vehemently opposed to the increased compensation:
compensation payments for a total of $31 million now announced by the federal
government are inappropriate and should not be necessary to get sufficient
approval from the community of the regions where the facility will be located.
The committee is cognisant of the impact that the site selection process
has had on the communities of Kimba and Hawker. The committee considers that
the CBP was an appropriate compensation initiative which has funded a variety
of projects in both regions that would have otherwise not been readily
realised. Delivery of the programme through AusIndustry has achieved
arms-length independence and there is no evidence that program has influenced
The committee notes the government's increased commitment, from
$10 million to $31 million, to the community in which a NRWMF is
operational. Again, the committee does not consider that the CDP has influenced
community support for a NRWMF as it appears the vast majority of community
members have already made their decision.
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page