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Nuclear Waste in South Australia

Mr WINGARD (Mitchell) (15:26): I rise today to speak about Premier Jay Weatherill's plans to make South Australia the nuclear waste dump state. That is where South Australia sits in the wake of Premier Weatherill's mismanagement of the engagement and consultation process around the potential nuclear industry. Let's be clear about this: this is the option the Premier has chosen for South Australia and this is the position he continues to take to make South Australia the nuclear waste dump state.

He takes this position despite profound opposition from many within the community. We see again today that the Premier covers for ministers in question time when they are asked about whether or not they support the plan to make South Australia a waste dump state. Not one of the ministers has objected to this proposal. It is clear that the Premier and those on the other side are determined to make South Australia a nuclear dump state. Let's have a look at the background. In May, the final report from the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission was provided to the South Australian government for its consideration.

The report determined that South Australia could safely increase its participation in nuclear activities. Twelve recommendations and 145 findings were made by royal commissioner Kevin Scarce in relation to the state's future participation in elements of the nuclear fuel cycle. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out a few moments ago, it is something that we were happy to explore and discuss, and support the process that was put forward. At the time of delivering his report, the Hon. Mr Scarce said:

The findings and recommendations in this report represent the beginning of a new series of conversations with the community that address their questions and concerns, and ultimately enable decisions to be made by the people of South Australia.

On this side, we were happy to discuss and have always been happy to discuss that and be a part of those conversations. In regard to electricity generation, the Hon. Mr Scarce determined:

Nuclear power generation would not be commercially viable in SA under current market rules, but should be considered as a future low-carbon energy source to contribute to national emissions reduction targets.

However, the commission made the following recommendations:

  • Remove existing prohibitions on nuclear power generation
  •  Develop low-carbon, technology-neutral energy policy
  •  Monitor developments in new nuclear reactor designs for future consideration

Notably, in his most recent comments the Premier did not move to remove the prohibitions on nuclear power generation within the state. On the management, storage and disposal of waste Mr Scarce concluded:

South Australia has the attributes and capabilities to manage and dispose of international used nuclear fuel safely, and it would have significant intergenerational benefit to the community. Social and community consent is fundamental to this activity proceeding.

That is a very key point: social and community consent is fundamental to this activity proceeding. As a result, the Premier had a couple of citizens' juries, and we know the fallout from that. He thought that people would come on board and follow the way that he saw this going. Bear in mind, the Premier changed the game and made the focus of this South Australia becoming a nuclear waste dump state. It was interesting to read the comments by Professor Richard Blandy in the InDaily today. He talked about the process of the citizens' jury. He said:

"The first jury operated as a free-flowing discussion rather than with set pieces presented by the witnesses followed by questions from the jurors. The issues are, of course, difficult and technical. But the jurors (like the jurors in the second jury) were great. They were sensible, common-sense, people, who could see that the proposed dump was not a business proposition that any person in their right mind would invest in. They, too, quite properly insisted that the business case for the dump should be made watertight—or the dump abandoned."

He goes on to say:

"Finding out if the business case for the dump was watertight, or not, would not come cheap. Jacobs Engineering Group project manager, Tim Johnson, who was added, by DemocracyCo, as an expert witness to the economics panel at the second jury, testified to the State Joint Parliamentary Committee investigating the project that it would take six years to firm up the business case before deciding to proceed, at a cost of $300 million—$600 million."

In other words, it would cost up to $600 million to find out if the project was dud, or not! That is $600 million not available to be spent on hospitals, schools, or roads—or solving our electricity crisis. And that would come on top of the $10 million that this exercise in fantasy has already cost.

Those are Professor Dick Blandy's comments, and they just show that this project did not stack up. We know that the government is looking for a silver bullet solution and we know that they have failed on so many projects, such as Gillman, child protection in South Australia, EPAS, the hospitals, and the highest unemployment rate on the mainland, and they have also made us the blackout state.

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