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Opposition growing to SA nuclear plan

  • 17 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. In particular they invited four economists (Richard Denniss, Richard Blandy, Barbara Pocock, Mark Diesendorf), whose convincing analyses led to their firm conclusion of 'no confidence in the economics'.

The jury also insisted on a strong second round of Aboriginal Traditional Owner witnesses: Pitjatjantjara, Yankunyjatjara, Adnyamathanha, Nukunu, Kokatha and others from various language groups across the state. Witnesses reported that various jurists were very moved by these many powerful and passionate statements, with their final report quoting Keith Peters from Yalata — 'Any damage to the environment is damage to spirit and body' — along with several extracts from the Aboriginal Statement, as above.

The title Citizens Jury, however, remains a misnomer. A genuine Citizens Jury has the power to make a decision. The Premier has made it clear he retains that power. Still, in the ABC Q&A program held in Adelaide, he had assured Karina Lester, chair of the Yankunyjatjara Native Title Corporation, that without Aboriginal consent 'it will not go ahead'.

The 15 October rally (pictured) of 3000 strong must have been one of the first revelations to the Premier that his extraordinary push for the project has major concerted opposition, despite the $10 million 'persuasion campaign'.

On this 63rd anniversary of the Emu Field British bomb explosion in north eastern SA, Karina Lester, daughter of Yami Lester, who was blinded by the 'Black Mist' explosion, was co-MC. Traditional Owners Mima Smart (immediate past chairperson of Yalata Community) and Keith Peters (immediate past chairperson and present member of Maralinga Tjarutja) spoke their history and present fiery opposition.


"With just 15 protestors the previous