South Australia To Hold State-Wide Referendum On Nuclear Waste Facility

South Australia To Hold State-Wide Referendum On Nuclear Waste Facility

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill

Premier Outlines Path Forward For Nuclear Discussion

Victor P Taffa

Premier Jay Weatherill has announced that a State-wide referendum will be held on a proposed nuclear waste facility in South Australia.

“I believe continued public debate about South Australia’s role in the nuclear fuel cycle is important and ultimately it is a matter that the people should decide, not political parties.” Premier Weatherill said.

Premier Weatherill said that the Government also concluded the only path forward is the restoration of bipartisanship and broad social consent secured through a State-wide referendum.

“As I have previously stated, a large and controversial issue such as this would always be a test of our democracy.” Premier Weatherill said.

A diverse range of community views were uncovered through an unprecedented State-wide consultation program and two Citizens’ Juries.

This consultation process has helped guide the government’s next steps on this matter.

Continued public debate about South Australia’s role in the nuclear fuel cycle is important, however an absence of bipartisanship stands in the way of any meaningful progress.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall withdrew the Liberal Party’s support before the process had been completed, removing the bipartisanship the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission said was critical to the process.

“If broad social consent was to be achieved through a referendum, local Aboriginal people would be given a final right of veto on any future facility.” Premier Weatherill said.

This final right of veto would exist if a proposed facility would impact upon their lands and would not be overridden by the broader community.

Although the Labor Party has yet to change its policy on this matter, at the recent party convention, the Premier was permitted to continue the public consultation process.

“We will not pursue a change to our policy, but if the mood in the community shifts and bipartisanship is re-established we will remain open to this question.” Premier Weatherill said.

Government’s full response to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission will be delivered in the Parliament tomorrow.

 

Background

In February 2015, the Government announced it would establish a Royal Commission to investigate the State’s possible further involvement in nuclear fuel cycle.

Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, headed by former Governor Kevin Scarce, delivered its report in May of this year.

First Citizens’ Jury met in June and July this year to deliberate on the Royal Commission Report and set the agenda for a three-month state-wide consultation process.

First Citizens’ Jury identified the establishment of a waste disposal facility as the most significant aspect of the Commission’s report.

Guided by the first jury, the State Government’s Consultation and Response Agency (CARA) undertook the largest consultation program in the state’s history.

CARA visited more than 125 sites across South Australia, including all major regional centres and more than 60 remote towns and 30 Aboriginal communities.

Consultation program included:

  • 17,000 face-to-face conversations
  • 33,000 online conversations
  • 4,500 online surveys
  • 1,150 letters, emails and phone calls

A Community Views Report collated the views of more than 50,000 people involved in the consultation process.

In pursuing a nuclear waste disposal facility a representative survey found

  • 43 % of people supported or strongly supported,
  • 37% opposed or strongly opposed,
  • 20% were undecided.

Second Citizens’ Jury sat on October 8-9, October 29-30 and November 5-6, working together over six days to develop a report which will help inform the State Government on the next steps as it prepares its response to the Royal Commission.

The group heard from more than 100 witnesses including environmental, economics, safety and industry experts, as well as community and Aboriginal representation.

Second Citizens’ Jury delivered its report earlier this month, with two-thirds of jurors opting to not pursue a nuclear waste disposal facility.