Australian news, and some related international items

South Australian Premier Weatherill – apolitical martyr for the nuclear lobby

Weatherill glowStubborn Weatherill risks fallout from nuclear referendum, Crikey, 15 Nov 16 
Significant opposition from all sides hasn’t been enough to deter the Premier, write InDaily journalists Tom Richardson and Bension Siebert. 
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has dramatically stared down his cabinet waverers and laid down the gauntlet to the Liberal opposition, vowing to continue down the nuclear path — with the question to be determined by a referendum……..

Weatherill was widely expected to drop any further pursuit of the nuclear option in the face of significant opposition — including within his own party. However, as forecast in InDaily, he has opted to forge ahead in a move that will put his leadership — and his party’s re-election hopes — dramatically on the line.
While royal commissioner Kevin Scarce had indicated the need for broad community consent, he had explicitly rejected a referendum as a “snapshot” poll. However, it is perhaps the only remaining way forward for a process upon which the Premier had staked his “bold” vision for the state.

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

The move effectively returns serve to Marshall, whose Liberals expected Labor to be backed into a corner by the public reaction to the divisive waste dump proposal.

However, it also means Weatherill will now become a key advocate, having resisted the overwhelming pressure to remove the issue from the political agenda altogether.

Crucially, Weatherill said local indigenous groups would be given a “right of veto” over any proposed dump “if a proposed facility would impact upon their lands” — a key factor in the citizens’ jury’s rejection……

The Premier said he had “reached out to the Liberal Party” to re-establish a bipartisan approach, saying: “There’s no point in promoting a referendum that has no chance of success.”

[Citizens’ jury decision spells nuclear disaster for Weatherill]

However, Marshall poured cold water over the prospect at a late afternoon media conference, saying: “Jay Weatherill is a desperate man trying to cling to some tiny shred of an economic framework.”

“Jay Weatherill’s entire leadership is on its last legs … I think we’re seeing the last weeks, the last months of [his premiership],” Marshall said.

“The people of SA don’t want this project, the Liberal party room in SA is against this.” Marshall emphasised that despite his unilateral move last week to “dump the dump”, the position was “passed without dissent” at yesterday’s party room meeting.

“The Liberal Party is 100% behind me,” he said.

“We do not support a referendum … if Jay Weatherill is so wedded to this, he can take it to the next election.”

The referendum proposal will need crossbench, if not opposition, support to pass Parliament, but Weatherill has indicated it can only proceed as a jointly sponsored proposal — a move that will now ramp up the political brinkmanship ahead of the state election in March 2018.

The Premier’s gambit will be met with incredulity from conservation campaigners who had all but declared the dump a dead issue.

“Most of state Parliament have said ‘no’, the Citizens’ Jury have said ‘no’, economists have said ‘no’, ordinary South Australians have said ‘no’, and most importantly, traditional owners have very clearly said ‘no’,” Conservation SA chief Craig Wilkins said today.

“There is clearly no support or consent for this investigation to continue.”

Greens MLC Mark Parnell said the “remarkable announcement … defies belief and shows a government completely out of touch with the public”.

“What the experience of the last few months shows is that if you give citizens more facts and allow them access to all sides of the debate — they vote no … that’s what the citizens’ jury delivered,” he said.

“With almost every other political party in state parliament declaring they are opposed to a nuclear waste dump, it is hard to see how the necessary legislation for a referendum would get through both houses of Parliament … a statewide referendum would be throwing good money after bad.

“The government has already wasted more than $10 million on this project and a referendum would cost tens of millions more … if the Premier wants this to be an issue for all South Australians, then he should go to the March 2018 state election with a nuclear waste dump as part of Labor’s platform — that would test public opinion.”

November 16, 2016 - Posted by | politics, South Australia, wastes

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