Australian news, and some related international items

Community trust requires public discussion and transparency.

David Noonan 30 Mar 23

According to the Department of Defence, the process for selecting a site for high-level nuclear waste will include engaging with community and First Nations groups.

Community engagement expert, Professor Sara Bice from the Australian National University, says best practice consultation for something as controversial as nuclear submarines or high-level radioactive waste would ideally begin early, be transparent and involve public discussion about whether the technology is desired in the first place.

“We’re beyond the point where communities can have genuine consultation on this issue. Because the decision has already been made for them. The government has decided that this is a type of weaponry and defence mechanism that is going to occur within Australia. So, things like the nuclear waste sites […] will have to occur in order for AUKUS to proceed.”

The option of a site in outback South Australia has been floated by the Premiers of Victoria and Western Australia.

But Bice says there are implications of proposing a waste site in outback South Australia, given that state already went through a robust process – with a Royal Commission, public engagement and a Citizen Jury – to consider high-level waste in 2015 and 2016. That process concluded with 27 Native Title groups and the majority of the Citizen Jury rejecting the idea.

Re-opening the discussion of nuclear waste in South Australia suggests the expectation you might get a different outcome, she says.

“I think that’s a bit disingenuous, and it undermines the thing that we look for most when we talk about a social licence, which is trust.”

She says when large, controversial decisions are made without public discussion or consultation, it creates fear and conditions ripe for opposition and protest.


April 1, 2023 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes

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