Australian news, and some related international items

A South Australian Labor MP has the guts to speak out against nuclear waste dump plan

“I don’t want nuclear dump”: Labor MP, Tom Richardson, 18 Mar 16 

Jay Weatherill could face a divided party if he forges ahead with a proposal to establish a high level nuclear waste dump in South Australia, with a long-time Labor MP telling InDaily the idea is “quite worrying” – and suggesting several colleagues share the same view.

The tentative findings of Kevin Scarce’s nuclear royal commission handed down last month found an unambiguous economic case to establish a repository, with the Premier already moving to amend the law to facilitate broader debate on the issue.

Key, StephBut the debate is heating up in the corridors of parliament, with former Labor minister and Ashford MP Steph Key joining Greens MLC Mark Parnell – a vocal opponent of increasing SA’s nuclear involvement – in sponsoring a briefing for interested MPs by a noted critic of the waste dump push.

An email went out to all MPs this week, reading: “Dear colleagues, there’s been so much said about an economic bonanza from building a global nuclear waste facility – but what if the economics don’t stack up?”

“Come and hear from Dr Richard Denniss, Chief Economist, The Australia Institute,” it concluded.

The briefing will be held on Tuesday, after a public briefing by Denniss together with economist and InDaily columnist Richard Blandy, both of whom have argued against the economic case for a waste dump.

“I think it would be fairly well known that I’m an anti-nuclear person,” Key said when contacted by InDaily. “I have been for the last 40 years, and I still am.” She said she was “interested to know what [Denniss and Blandy] have to say about the costings that have been put forward so far”.

“People are saying it could help us economically [but] I don’t actually want to have a dump at all,” she said. “I’m just interested to know whether these billions of dollars cited actually stack up – Mark and I decided we’d try and offer something to people that can come along.”

Key says she believes SA should “store our own waste [and] I do have some sympathy for low level or intermediate level repository”, but she has grave misgivings about a high-level global storage facility.

“I want to know all about it… the study I have done, I think it’s quite worrying,” she said, citing concerns over transportation. “We keep getting things across the sea and then by train, presumably, and truck… what does all that mean? What’s the risk analysis of all that? There’s quite a bit to consider.”

Labor right-winger Tom Kenyon has argued passionately in favour of the repository, but Key – a Left-faction stalwart – says: “I want to have a look at all the facts before I come out and argue in a very public way about this issue.”

“And I want to talk to my colleagues, but I get the impression that quite a few of them have a lot of sympathy for my way of thinking,” she said. “I’ve spoke quite passionately at both convention and state council – and national conference – over the years, so I don’t think anyone would be surprised that I don’t think this is a good idea.

“I just remember Fukushima – five years on and there’s still just people helping with the cleanup, let alone the natural disaster that it was… it just seems like a very big risk to me, and if it doesn’t stack up financially I think people are starting to run out of arguments.”

March 18, 2016 - Posted by | politics, South Australia

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