Australian news, and some related international items

South Australian government herded Citizens Jury towards a “yes” vote on nuclear waste importing

Citizens' Jury scrutinyEP citizen juror loses trust in state government on nuclear process, 14 Nov 2016,  CLEVE resident Deb Carlaw, who was one of 10 Eyre Peninsula representatives on the Nuclear Fuel Cycle’s Citizens’ Jury, has returned from her time on the jury, with a “strong feeling” of distrust in the state government.

“We felt we were being herded toward making the middle vote (go ahead with investigations into the facility) and I was horrified by the manipulation and subterfuge underway – it really opened my eyes,” Mrs Carlaw said.

The jury was a collective of 350 people from across the state which Mrs Carlaw said did not include many regional or rural people.  Two thirds of the jury voted to not go ahead further with the waste proposal, with economic benefits, trust, safety and lack of indigenous consent key points in their decision. Mrs Carlaw said 100 per cent of the EP representatives voted a strong ‘no’ to the proposal.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has now said the discussion should continue on the proposed facility, which will only be achieved by political party bipartisanship and a state wide referendum.  Mrs Carlaw said she was disappointed but not surprised Mr Weatherill was continuing on with the proposal, regardless of the fact the jury was “supposed to be the voice of the state”.

“Fuorteen million dollars down the drain because the government won’t accept the verdict we came up with,” she said.

Mrs Carlaw had used social media as a platform to ask what people on Eastern Eyre felt regarding the nuclear proposal before she attended the jury, with the majority saying ‘no’ to the idea.

“We had people stand up, including a representative from PIRSA, who advised the jurors that country people wanted this facility, which I couldn’t believe, as from the information we had received from community members, this was not the case.”

She said the responses to any questions regarding nuclear accidents were met with a blanket statement of “there will never be any”. Mrs Carlaw said the facts she received while on the jury firmly made her mind up to not support the proposed facility.

She said the experience had been challenging, physically and mentally and had missed out on important family events, because she wanted to be able to see the experience to the end.“I wanted to be able to devote myself to this responsibility – I studied, I talked, I listened and I learnt,” Mrs Carlaw said.

November 25, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury | Leave a comment

The saga of the South Australian nuclear waste import plan continues – Michele Madigan

highly-recommendedOpposition growing to SA nuclear plan https://www.eurekastreet.Madigan, Michele
Michele Madigan |  16 November 2016

We are not a dump is SA, we want to keep it beautiful’ — Umoona Community. ‘We’ve got to think about the country’ — Ceduna. The last 30 days have seen some big developments in the ongoing attempts of SA Premier Weatherill’s plan to import high-level and intermediate level radioactive waste into South Australia.

On Sunday 6 November came the surprising decision of the Premier-initiated Citizens Jury. By the end of their six day deliberations, the 350 second round jurists showed a decided shift in opinion. Their 50 page report, presented to a somewhat discomfited Premier, had a strong two thirds majority declaring the international nuclear dump was not to go ahead ‘under any circumstances’.

Contrary to expectations, my own included, the jury, realising the bias of the royal commission and other government initiated forums, had insisted on their own choice of counter experts. Continue reading

November 20, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury, NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, wastes | 1 Comment

Scarce and his pro nuclear Royal Commission not looking credible

Scarce thanks expertsOn radio this week, Scarce denied his commission had “cooked” the numbers. There was nothing wrong with contracting pro-nuke lobbyists to do the work…….

there will be more consultation. There is also a parliamentary inquiry into the issue, due to report on November 29, which sources suggest is likely to split three-all, with Labor and Family First on one side and the Greens and Liberals on the other.

And further analysis of the royal commission’s economic calculations, received by the state parliament this week, is highly critical

SA’s citizen jury defies royal commission,  SA’s citizen jury, which rejected the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s pro-storage stance, reveals the democratic tension when governments open decision-making to the people while seeking a predetermined outcome. Saturday Paper 19 Nov 16  MIKE SECCOMBE

Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce, AC, CSC, RANR, calmly damned the torpedoes when he went on Adelaide radio on Tuesday morning. He wasn’t sunk yet, he insisted.

The available evidence, however, suggested he was taking a lot of water. Over more than a year the former navy man and South Australian governor had steered his royal commission into the nuclear fuel cycle towards a radioactive future. Now, six months after the release of his report recommending the state become a repository for nuclear waste, it had been badly holed.

A citizens’ jury of 350 randomly selected people had looked into the findings, had heard evidence from witnesses selected for them and from their own selected witnesses and had come down by a margin of about two-to-one against any plan to store high-level nuclear waste in the state. This was a surprise to many, including some opponents of the plan who already had put a deal of work into formulating elaborate conspiracy theories and disseminating the message that the citizens’ jury was designed as a stitch-up.

If it was – and we’ll come back to the claims – then it was very badly stitched. The jury’s opposition was absolute.

“Under no circumstances should South Australia pursue opportunity to store and dispose of nuclear waste from other countries for reasons of consent, economic, trust and safety,” the report said. Continue reading

November 20, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury | Leave a comment

An inside story from South Australia’s Nuclear Citizens Jury

Let’s move on.

Perhaps the Premier will now see that this is a non-starter. He could save face, claiming the government was prepared to tackle hard issues in the interest of the State. Unfortunately he seems determined to press ahead. But please, whatever the political outcome, can we stop undermining the honest hard work of the jurors by claiming they were ‘biased’. The jury reached a democratic decision despite attempts to manufacture consent for a cautious ‘go ahead. Was this was solely evidence-based or influenced by lack of trust in the government’s capacity to manage the project and the way the facilitation team managed the jury process? My sense it was a bit of both; but based on evidence and the experience, not just emotion and opinion. Let’s now move on and consider how we might invest the money that would have been needed for this nuclear waste project in creating sustainable jobs in South Australia – manufacturing and installing the technologies needed for low carbon energy future.

highly-recommendedOne small voice from inside the recent SA Nuclear Citizen’s Jury

By Tony Webb  , 18 November 2016 Two thirds of the recent South Australian Citizen’s Jury Citizens' Jury scrutinyopposed the idea that South Australia could import, store and dispose of around a third of the world’s highly radioactive Nuclear wastes. Nuclear advocates have responded by suggesting bias in the jury. I’d like to share some of what happened inside the jury based on first hand experience rather than ill-informed opinions from outsiders.

Bias in the jury selection process?

First the claim the jury was ‘biased’. Simply untrue. I was one of 25,000 people randomly selected via Austria Post listings who received an invitation to participate and was one of around 1200 who expressed interest. I was not chosen for the first 50 person jury in June but was one of the 350 selected to participate in the second jury in October.

Was I biased? I freely admit to being an active critic of the nuclear industry for over 40 years. I’ve worked on public and worker-education over risks from radiation exposures in the UK USA Canada and here. Not always popular with anti-nuclear advocates, I’ve also argued that the world needs to find a long term solution to the problem of nuclear wastes. I’d prefer this be done by international agreement as a global-citizen responsibility. I’m sceptical it can be done responsibly as a commercial venture or as a solution to South Australia’s economic woes.

Were others in the jury similarly inclined or approaching it from a predetermined position? Definitely not. The evidence from jurors’ early postings on the ‘Basecamp’ discussion board, and questions in the jury sessions indicated that most if not all approached the task of reviewing the evidence with an open mind; facing up to the challenge of producing reasoned advice to government on whether, and if so under what conditions, to pursue the opportunity outlined in the report of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission. Further evidence of open minds was seen when, at the end of the second weekend, we formed an ‘opinion line’ on our thinking a that stage in the process. A continuous line across the room showed, while some had firmed up their opinion at both ends, most were still undecided.

Reviewing the evidence Continue reading

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury | Leave a comment

South Australian Treasurer Koutsantonis sulking about “elites” influencing Nuclear Citizens Jury

wicked-elitesNuclear fuel cycle: ‘Silent majority’ over ‘elites’ telling people what to think about waste dump’silent-majority’-want-sa-nuclear-dump-koutsantonis-says/8030816  A “silent majority” of South Australians want the investigation into a nuclear waste dump to continue, the State Treasurer says, citing a comparison with US voters who elected Donald Trump as their next president.

This week the SA Government announced the proposal for a high-level nuclear waste dump would only go ahead after a state-wide referendum, with bipartisanship and approval from the Indigenous community where the dump was planned.

Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said there were South Australians who wanted further discussion on the proposal. Two thirds of a citizens’ jury concerning the project did not want the state to store waste “under any circumstances”. The Government’s own community consultation report found of those surveyed randomly, 37 per cent were against the idea, while 43 per cent wanted more discussion on the issue.

There’s a silent majority that want to talk about this a bit further,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“We saw that now in the United States with Donald Trump, we’ve seen what happens when the elites tell the people how to think.

“I think a referendum is a great way of having South Australians actually talk about this, but in the end we can’t have a referendum without the consent of the Parliament.”

Premier Jay Weatherill released a statement this afternoon stating the Liberal Party was holding back the nuclear debate by “engaging in a series of pathetic stunts” and questioning the binding nature of of a referendum.

“Without bipartisanship, there is no way can meaningfully progress this discussion,” Mr Weatherill said.

“The Liberal Party wants to shut down this debate entirely, they think they know better than the South Australian people.

“We trust the South Australian people to make the right choices in the state’s best interests.”

Economic modelling described as optimistic

Meanwhile, the Opposition has seized on a report which questioned the royal commission’s economic modelling showing there would be a $257-billion windfall for the state from a nuclear storage facility.

In the independent report provided to Parliament, the modelling was described as optimistic.

Opposition spokesman Rob Lucas said the modelling was based on “vague” assumptions.

“There are very significant questions and concerns being raised by these international experts, independent international experts, about the financial assumptions which underpin the project,” Mr Lucas said.

“They mirror the concerns, some of the concerns that we have expressed in the past.”

November 16, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury, politics, wastes | 1 Comment

Time for Premier Weatherill to listen to the jury on radioactive waste -Traditional Owners

logo ANFA

Traditional Owners and members of the Aboriginal-led Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) have welcomed the Citizen’s Jury’s recommendation to reject an international high level radioactive waste dump for South Australia.

Throughout both the Royal Commission and Citizens Jury processes concerns of potential bias have been raised. The consultancy firm hired by the Royal Commission, Jacobs MCM, has clear links to the nuclear industry. The economic report was written by Charles McCombie and Neil Chapman, the president and vice president of the Association for Regional and International Underground Storage (ARIUS). A further example of bias was that the Citizen Jurors were asked to nominate ‘witnesses’ they wished to speak to, but DemocracyCo added three people to the witness list ‒ all of them pro-nuclear ‒ without the Jurors’ knowledge or consent.

ANFA members are concerned by SA premier Jay Weatherill’s suggestion that he may not heed the jury’s recommendations: “This jury doesn’t believe the present proposal should be taken forward but we need to take into account a whole range of other broad community views[1]“.

Kokatha-Mula woman Sue Coleman-Haseldine is a co-chair of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance, in response to Premier Weatherill’s comments she said “The jury has listened to us, it’s time for the premier to listen to the jury. We don’t want this waste in South Australia. Not here, not anywhere”.

Aboriginal people travelled to Adelaide from across the state to share their concerns with the 350 jurors at the Indigenous session held on Saturday 5th November.  Many others who would have liked to have been there were unable to attend but those present were able to convey their heartfelt concerns for protecting country and culture.

Vivienne McKenzie, Adnyamantha elder who has been campaigning to protect her traditional lands from radioactive waste told the jury “If you make the decision to let a waste dump be in this state, you will go down in history and have this on your conscience.  What are you going to tell your children? ‘I was a juror, I gave the decision to have a waste dump.’  We will be history in the making. Really think about it, think from your heart, don’t think about money, there is no money in this.  They are tricking everybody.”

In its recommendation, the jury stated “There is a lack of Aboriginal consent. We believe that the government should accept that the Elders have said no and stop ignoring their opinions. The Aboriginal people of South Australia (and Australia) continue to be neglected and ignored by all levels of government instead of being respected and treated as equals.”

Sue Coleman-Haseldine concluded:” ANFA members are pleased that the Jurors listened to the voices heard at the Indigenous session. Now it’s time for the Premier to listen too.”

Today’s statement is also on the ANFA website

November 12, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Nuclear Citizens Jury, South Australia | Leave a comment

Citizens’ Jury effectively exploded South Australian Labor govt’s nuclear plans

Citizens' Jury scrutinySouth Australian ‘citizens’ jury’ rejects nuclear dump, Green Left  RENFREY CLARKEAdelaide, November 11, 2016 To the fury of business spokespeople, South Australia’s “Citizens’ Jury on Nuclear Waste” has effectively exploded plans by the state Labor government to host the world’s largest nuclear waste dump.

The jury was intended by Premier Jay Weatherill to lend his scheme a garnish of popular consent. But in their final report on November 6, the jurors instead concluded that the dump plan should not go ahead “under any circumstances”. The vote was overwhelming, with two-thirds of jury members opposing the government’s projections.

Both as science and public policy, the jury’s finding made superb sense. But the verdict was more than that.

From the ordinary working people of South Australia, it was a message to their “betters”: “Be damned. We don’t trust you to defend our interests. Given the chance, we’d send you to hell.”

It was like Brexit. Or the street parties held when Margaret Thatcher died.

To reach their verdict, the jurors — initially numbering 350 and chosen as a representative slice of society — defied an intensive propaganda campaign mounted by the state authorities over several years at a reported cost of $10 million.

The government, Weatherill insisted from the outset, would never go ahead with its dump scheme unless the population, including indigenous people, was shown to be solidly behind the plan. To make the case for the proposal, a Royal Commission on the Nuclear Fuel Cycle was held, headed by former South Australian Governor Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce. The commission’s final report, key sections of it drafted by nuclear industry consultants, was delivered in May.

As anticipated, the commission urged constructing a “deep repository” to house as much as a third of the world’s current stock of high-level reactor wastes. Most of the immense cost, South Australians were promised, would be borne by client countries anxious to rid themselves of a growing mountain of spent nuclear fuel. The eventual net flow of revenues to the South Australian government was put at a dazzling $51 billion.

Nuclear spruikers

Following the royal commission was a “consultation” program dubbed by critics the “nuclear roadshow”. For months, teams of pro-nuclear spruikers toured the state’s urban centres. Supposedly seeking the views of the population on nuclear issues, program staffers mounted slick presentations uncritically promoting the commission’s findings.

Pounding still broader numbers of South Australians into line was a drum-beat of pro-nuclear articles in the Murdoch-owned Adelaide Advertiser.

Within the government’s strategy the role of the Citizens’ Jury, which met for the first time in June, was to produce a report voicing at least conditional assent to the dump plans. Weatherill and his cabinet would then have claimed public support for beginning the process, predicted eventually to cost taxpayers $300–600 million,  that would see the sites for interim and final dumps chosen, the location selected for a dedicated port, and prospective clients scouted.

Though strong on the rhetoric of “consultative leadership” and “deliberative democracy”, the Weatherill government clearly did not mean to let in-depth debate get in the way of a suitable jury verdict. Control over the jury process was handed to a team of “facilitators” put together by the firm DemocracyCo. The latter compiled a list of 160 “expert witnesses”, skewed strongly towards nuclear advocates, to address the jurors.

A script drawn up by the facilitators would rush the jurors through hurried workshops, many held simultaneously. Jurors would have little chance to question witnesses at length, or to gain a feel for the broad progress of the discussion.

The government’s ploys seemed watertight. But on November 6, they were shown to have failed completely.

“Multiple threads of concern are present that undermine the confidence of jurors in the Royal Commission report’s validity,” the jury’s final report stated. “These concerns collectively combine to affect a powerful NO response.”

“Green activists kill inquiry”

What had gone wrong? In the view of Nigel McBride, chief executive of the peak association Business SA, the jurors had been got at by “green activists determined to kill further inquiry”.

“They ran an absolutely undiluted campaign of fear and misinformation,” McBride was quoted by the Advertiseras saying: “The people who were going to die in a ditch over this were the naysayers, the rest of us were calling for an informed investigation … It’s disappointing. An extraordinary amount of effort and resources and time has gone into it.”

The truth is less sinister. Chief Executive of the Conservation Council of SA Craig Wilkins pinpointed it in a press release:

“The nuclear industry likes to push a myth that the more people get to understand nuclear issues, the more supportive they are. Well, 350 South Australians have spent over 40 hours hearing about a nuclear dump for SA and the more they heard about it, the less they liked [it].”

The real problem that brought the nuclear dumpsters undone was simple: before a demanding audience that had other sources of information, the pro-nuclear side was incapable of putting forward convincing arguments.

Dissatisfied with the witnesses on offer, the jurors invited experts of their own choice, to talk to them, including Friends of the Earth anti-nuclear campaigner Jim Green, Australia Institute Chief Economist Richard Denniss, and University of South Australia Adjunct Professor Richard Blandy, all incisive public critics of the dump scheme.

The jury’s final report is not a polished document. Those who worked on it, however, obviously took their task with enormous seriousness. Their rejection of the pro-dump case, it is fair to say, rested on two main grounds: the refusal by the dump’s proponents to address the objections of traditional indigenous landowners and the gross flaws in the economic case for the dump as put forward by the royal commission.

As related by the Adelaide Independent, Weatherill in the past had “told a national television audience that a dump would ‘require essentially the explicit consent of traditional owners’ and that ‘if it did not exist, it wouldn’t happen’.”

In a two-hour session before the whole Citizens’ Jury, more than a dozen well-known Indigenous elders made it plain that no consent was being given or ever would be.

“Indigenous, community and social consent is absolutely required,” the jury’s report notes. “Currently not provided and a resounding ‘No’…”

The economic case for the dump, prepared for the royal commission by the nuclear industry consulting firm Jacobs MCM, is savaged in the report. “Many (jurors) have no confidence in the economics of the project. … The assumptions made (as) to potential income are based on assumptions with little support.”

Eighty-two per cent of the jurors, the report notes, were inclined to view the economic risks of the scheme as too great.

November 12, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

A blow to nuclear front group “Ecomodernists” -South Australian Citizens Jury verdict

EcoModernist Manifesto

 No way! South Australians reject international nuclear waste dump  Jim Green, The Ecologist, 9 November 2016

An officially convened 350-strong Citizens’ Jury has decisively rejected South Australia’s plans to import over half a million tonnes of high and intermediate level nuclear waste for long term storage, writes Jim Green. This has dealt a powerful blow against the project from which it is unlikely to ever recover, and represents a major victory for campaigners, indigenous Australians and economic sanity.

On Sunday November 6, two-thirds of the 350 members of a South Australian government-initiated Citizens’ Jury rejected “under any circumstances” the government’s plan to import 138,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste and 390,000 cubic metres of intermediate-level nuclear waste as a money-making venture.

The Jury was a key plank of the government’s attempt to manufacture support for the dump plan, and followed the SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission which released its final report in May 2016.

The Royal Commission had a strong pro-nuclear bias in its composition but still rejected – on economic grounds – almost all of the proposals it considered: uranium conversion and enrichment, nuclear fuel fabrication, conventional and ‘Generation IV’ nuclear power reactors, and spent fuel reprocessing.

Australia’s handful of self-styled ‘ecomodernists’ or ‘pro-nuclear environmentalists’ united behind a push to import spent fuel and to use some of it to fuel ‘integral fast reactors’. They would have expected to persuade the stridently pro-nuclear Royal Commission to endorse their ideas.

But the Royal Commission completely rejected the proposal, noting in its report

  • that advanced fast reactors are unlikely to be feasible or viable in the foreseeable future;
  • that the development of such a first-of-a-kind project would have high commercial and technical risk;
  • that there is no licensed, commercially proven design and development to that point would require substantial capital investment;
  • and that electricity generated from such reactors has not been demonstrated to be cost competitive with current light water reactor designs.

The ecomodernists weren’t deterred. They hoped that the nuclear waste import plan would proceed and that it would lay the foundations for the later development of fast reactors in SA. Now it seems that the waste import plan will be abandoned, and the ecomodernists are inconsolable.

 The SA government will come under strong pressure to abandon the waste import plan in the wake of the Citizens’ Jury’s vote. Roman Orszanski, climate and energy campaigner with Friends of the Earth Adelaide, said: “Three thousand people protested against the proposed nuclear waste dump outside Parliament House on October 15 and there will be more protests and bigger protests if the SA government attempts to push ahead.”…… 


November 10, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury | Leave a comment

Premier Weatherill’s nuclear political quagmire (a martyr for the nuclear religion?)

weatherill-martyrWith citizens dissenting, Labor party members preparing for internal debate and anticipation building among nuclear industrialists, the Weatherill government has waded into a political quagmire, in which it now stands waste-deep.

Simplify Day won’t ease nuclear tension in South Australia, Online opinion, By Dan Monceaux, 9 Nov 16  “……If support for future high-level nuclear waste storage had been demonstrated by the Citizens Jury, or granted by Traditional Owners, repealing legislative barriers would have been the necessary next step before opening the gate for further investment. The Jury’s report recommends against such reforms, casting doubt on the nature and content of the policy announcement expected later this month.

The Jury has also called for the State Government to draw no more from the public purse. To date the State has committed $13 million dollars to the Royal Commission, Citizens’ Jury and ‘Get to Know Nuclear’ public relations campaigns combined.

The jury’s objections have no doubt stolen some wind from the sails of supporters. The Premier now risks compounding the identified problem of a lack of trust in government, if he is to announce any further financial commitment to explore the Commission’s proposal. Meanwhile, dissenting voices within the South Australian Labor party will likely draw confidence from this as the party heads towards a contentious Special Convention on the topic. Continue reading

November 8, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Citizens Jury clearly examined the economic danger of importing nuclear wastes

scrutiny-on-wastes-sa-bankruptClear-headed citizens’ jury refused to be dazzled ANALYSIS, InDaily, Richard Blandy, 7 Nov 16 The citizens’ jury’s rejection of a high-level nuclear waste dump for South Australia was based on courage and common sense, writes economics commentator Richard Blandy – one of the expert witnesses called to address the jury. My fellow expert economic witnesses, chosen by a formal voting process by all the members of the citizens’ jury, were Dr Mark Diesendorf , a former Principal Research Scientist in the CSIRO and former Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Technology, Sydney), Dr Richard Dennis, Chief Economist at The Australia Institute, Barbara Pocock, Emeritus Professor of Economics at UniSA and a member of the SA Economic Development Board, and me.

All of these expert witnesses opposed the royal commission’s proposal to establish a high level nuclear waste dump in South Australia.

DemocracyCo, the body running the citizens’ jury process, added to this group Dr Tim Johnson, Project Manager/Consultant at Jacobs Engineering, which undertook the analysis of the nuclear dump for the royal commission. Dr Johnson was the project manager for Jacobs’ work on the cost analysis and business case for the dump.

Naturally enough, Dr Johnson supported the royal commission’s proposal to establish the dump.

Dr Diesendorf, participating in proceedings through a Skype link to Sydney, said the dump proposal painted a scenario of huge financial risk which had not been adequately addressed. South Australia could only proceed if it operated under two delusions – a delusion of grandeur and a delusion of being able to manage large risks that had not been adequately addressed.

I noted that there is no global market for high level nuclear waste at present so the price we could expect to get was a guess. The forecast profitability of the dump rested on highly optimistic assumptions, and the dump could easily lose money (on the Royal Commission’s own analysis in Figure J6) instead of being a bonanza. As Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said in his recent State Budget: “There is no silver bullet … [including] the nuclear royal commission.”

Richard Dennis pointed out that South Australia had already spent $10 million on the nuclear dump proposal, but still did not have a cost/benefit analysis. The price we would get for storing nuclear fuel was exaggerated and the volumes we would store were exaggerated. Would no other country enter the market if there was a bonanza happening in South Australia? One of the key assumptions of economics is that huge profits will attract competitors. If the project were likely to make so much money, why wouldn’t BHP be wanting to invest in it, or at least spend the next $10 million to explore the project further?

Barbara Pocock noted that all the economists agreed the dump was not a goer. In an earlier session, Dr Johnson had also agreed that the proposal needed a lot more work. It was a complicated project that had never been done before. At a projected cost of $145 billion, it was equivalent in financial size to 70 new Royal Adelaide Hospitals. A cost overrun would be very easy. The SA proposal was 20 times bigger than what the Finns are building. The profits come from holding the waste in inexpensive temporary storage for a very long time – but nothing will go wrong! We should not be dazzled and desperate. We should remember the State Bank – which cost us $3 billion and 20 years of economic confidence.

Tim Johnson summarised and defended the analysis that Jacobs had undertaken for the royal commission, which is contained in accessible reports, including the royal commission report itself. I will not go through this material again, here.

Most questions from the members of the citizens’ jury were directed to Dr Johnson, with other members of the panel commenting from time-to-time.

Late in the afternoon last Sunday, the 350 people of the citizens’ jury reported on their findings, the most important of which is reproduced below (supported by two thirds of the jurors):

No, not an option for the state under any circumstances for reasons of consent, economics, trust and safety.
· Under no circumstances should South Australia pursue opportunity to store and dispose of nuclear waste from other countries for reasons of consent, economics, trust and safety………


November 8, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury | Leave a comment

Premier Jay Weatherill’s political future on the line?

Where to now, for Premier Weatherill’s nuclear dream? Online Opinion, Noel Wauchope 8 Nov 16    On November 6th, to the surprise of all, South Australia’s Nuclear Citizens Jury came up with a report that overwhelmingly rejected the government’s plan for importing and storing high level nuclear waste. Over four days of witness hearings, and deliberations, the 350 members of the jury were tasked with producing an answer to this question:

Under what circumstances, if any, could South Australia pursue the opportunity to store and dispose of nuclear waste from other countries?

The jury’s answer:

Under no circumstances should South Australia pursue opportunity to store and dispose of nuclear waste from other countries for reasons of consent, economics, trust and safety.

An over-riding consideration was the lack of Aboriginal consent:……..

Weatherill nuclear dreamThe Jury strongly recommends that there be no further amendment to the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act at this time.

Many in the Jury felt strongly that if the nuclear waste proposal is to go ahead no further public money should be spent at this time. Any further analysis should be conducted and funded by key players within the industry.

Weakening or repealing this law is the first goal in the nuclear lobby’s plan set out in the report by Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission South Australia.

The jury was critical of the “Perceived lack of objectivity of Royal Commission Report”…….

A “yes” result might have been problematic, drawing national attention to this extraordinary plan to make Australia be the first country on the planet to invite in the world’s radioactive trash.

But a “No” vote – nobody expected that, and you could see by Weatherill’s rather fixed and strained smile on receiving the report, that it is causing some angst in the government. And no doubt, in the nuclear camp in general.

However, one can be sure that they will quickly regroup, and refresh their campaign. Premier Weatherill made it clear that the discussion will continue…….

everyone seems to agree that the Jury’s report is at least a “setback” for the nuclear waste plan, as the Financial Review describes it. It also raises questions about Premier Weatherill’s political future. Weatherill has been praised as an example of political courage. Weatherill prides himself on taking risks.

macbethHe could decide to cut the losses to the State, and pull out from the plan now. Perhaps Weatherill has invested too much energy and involvement with the nuclear lobby, to take such a step. As Macbeth said, when considering stopping his ambitious but dangerous cause – “”I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er,”

November 8, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

The SA Government should now dump its plans for a nuclear waste dump.

logo-australia-institute The Australia Institute team, 8 Nov 16 Yesterday, 350 ordinary citizens handed the SA Government a “stunning and overwhelming rejection” of its plans to build nuclear waste dump in South Australia.

The citizens’ jury’s task was to consider whether South Australia should import high level nuclear waste from other countries and bury it for money. After hearing about the proposal from various experts, more than two thirds of them said no, not “under any circumstances”.

The Australia Institute’s involvement focused on an area that no one else was challenging: the dodgy economic modelling and heroic estimates of how much money the dump would deliver to the state.

Richard Denniss addressed the citizens’ jury last weekend, highlighting a few key points:

Richard’s appearance was just the latest part of our involvement in the SA nuclear debate. In July, Rod Campbell had addressed an earlier citizens’ jury, leading to the headline in The Australian: Citizens’ jury questions economics of SA nuclear dump.

Our earlier submission on the economics of the dump and headline appearance on Today Tonightmade a big impact, with the Royal Commissioner, Kevin Scarce, saying he would take our submission “apart piece by piece.” We have also had a number of opinion pieces published on the subject.

Commissioner Scarce never did find anything wrong with our submission. But the citizens of South Australia have taken his work apart, piece by flawed piece. The Citizen’s Jury final report outlined concerns about the lack of consent from Traditional Owners, and showed that while 70% opposed the nuclear waste dump, 82% thought the economic case made was weak. Here’s a quote from the jury’s final report:

“It is impossible to provide an informed response to the issue of Economics because the findings in the RCR are based on unsubstantiated assumptions. This has caused the forecast estimates to provide inaccurate, optimistic, unrealistic economic projections.”

The SA Government should now dump its plans for a nuclear waste dump.

The Australia Institute aims to produce research that matters, and this is a case where we can see how lots of hard work over a long period changes minds. The Citizens’ Jury is to be congratulated for delivering a big win for the South Australian taxpayer, Traditional Owners, the environment, and common sense.


November 7, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Nuclear Citizens Jury, politics, wastes | 1 Comment

Aboriginal people will never agree to a high level waste dump – Nuclear Citizens Jury Report

handsoffNuclear citizens’ jury: five surprising things INDaily , 7 Nov 16 “……The State Government is today pondering what to make of the report of the second citizens’ jury which looked at whether South Australia should pursue the establishment of a facility to accept the world’s high level nuclear waste.

Two thirds of the 350 jurors rejected the proposition – under any circumstances.

The report shows not only a lack of faith in the concept outlined in the state’s nuclear industry royal commission, but along the way, the 50-odd pages of the citizen’s jury report has offered an indictment of a whole generation of South Australian politicians.

You wouldn’t know it from much of the media coverage since the report was handed down yesterday, but a key factor in the jury’s decision was the overwhelming Aboriginal opposition to a nuclear waste dump. Continue reading

November 7, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Nuclear Citizens Jury | Leave a comment

Overwhelming rejection of nuclear waste import. (article includes reader poll)

Jury (1)Citizens’ jury overwhelmingly rejects nuclear waste storage facility for South Australia State Political Editor Daniel Wills, The Advertiser November 6, 2016 A CITIZENS’ jury called by Premier Jay Weatherill to consider whether South Australia should develop a nuclear storage industry has rejected the idea by an overwhelming two-thirds majority.

In a deep blow to advocates of nuclear storage, … the jury cited a “lack of trust” as the deal-breaker.

It said it was sceptical of the State Government’s ability to deliver the project safely and on-budget, as well as the sincerity of the jury process they had been asked to take part in.

“The jury generally had a strong conviction in taking a position,” the report of its 350 members states.

“Two-thirds of the jury do not wish to pursue the opportunity under any circumstances.”

Mr Weatherill personally received the report from the citizens’ jury at the Adelaide Convention Centre just after 5pm on Sunday. But he would not concede the proposal was now dead.

The objections to the proposal ranged from the Government’s perceived poor record in managing big projects like construction of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital and the historic State Bank collapse, to the lack of consent from Aboriginal communities.

“No market testing and understanding the appetite with potential customers for the use of, and at what fee, for an Australian repository, is a reason not to undertake further expenditure and investigation,” the report states.

“Continuing the investigation … with evidence of lack of consent and poor economics, demonstrates this as an agenda of the Government.”

Mr Weatherill said the “very clear position” of the jury would be combined with other Government research about the statewide views of the nuclear industry, as Cabinet considers whether to push ahead.

November 6, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury | Leave a comment

The verdict is in and the radioactive waste dump plan is out

logo No Dump Alliance

7 Nov 16 South Australia’s No Dump Alliance has welcomed and congratulated the 350 member Citizens Jury for delivering a firm “No” to any plans to establish a high level international nuclear waste dump in South Australia after two thirds of Jurors voted No to the controversial plan at the final session yesterday in Adelaide.

“Jay’s jury has said No”, said Alliance spokesperson Tauto Sansbury. “The Premier should now listen to the people and respect this clear decision.”

Jurors also highlighted issues around the poor economics, lack of trust in government and public health and safety risks associated with nuclear projects. “This is a strong decision from randomly selected and very diverse group of South Australians who have had the benefit of studying the Royal Commission Report and hearing information from experts in various aspects of the proposal. It was positive to hear the jurors acknowledging the need for Traditional Owner’s voices to be heard. I thank the clear majority of Jurors for this decision”. Said No Dump Alliance spokeswoman Karina Lester.

The announcement represents a significant, indeed ‘near fatal’, blow to any hopes that a social consensus would develop in favour of the proposal. The global waste dump plan is now increasingly mired in controversy with recent revelations of a pro-nuclear bias in the Royal Commission Report as the Report’s sole economic analysis was provided by a pro-nuclear lobby group.

No Dump Alliance member Emeritus Professor Richard Blandy had a message for the Jurors: “I congratulate the Second Citizens’ Jury on their overwhelming decision against the proposed nuclear dump. They have shown courage and common sense. A large majority could see that the bonanza that the dump was supposed to bring to the State was based on very flimsy evidence. They saw that the real path to a better economic future for our State is based on our skills, innovative capabilities and capacity for hard work, not a bizarre gamble based on guesses. I am proud of my fellow South Australians on the Jury – including those who were in the minority. I would like to thank them all for their efforts on behalf of their fellow South Australians.”

Jamie Newlyn, State Secretary for the Maritime Union of Australia, was also pleased with today’s outcome. “The MUA have stood strongly against this proposal. It not only presents unacceptable risks to our members, but also to the economy and environment of our great State. We, along with other unions and the community, will carry on our opposition to this as long as we have to.” Mr Newlyn said.

 “The No Dump Alliance is calling on the Weatherill Government to formally end the global waste dump plan and we will continue to build the community campaign to dump the dump – our home is simply too good to waste,” concluded Ms Lester.

The No Dump Alliance is a broad cross-section of South Australian civil society, including Indigenous, public health, trade union, faith and environment groups and academics who are deeply concerned about and opposed to any move to open South Australia up to international high-level nuclear waste importation and dumping:

November 6, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Citizens Jury | Leave a comment