POLITICS

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill Wants To Hold A Referendum Over Nuclear Waste Dump

Yes, it's still on the cards.

14/11/2016 4:07 PM AEDT | Updated 14/11/2016 5:12 PM AEDT
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SA Premier Jay Weatherill said the issue was ultimately 'a matter that the people should decide, not political parties'.

The debate over a nuclear waste dump will continue in South Australia as state premier Jay Weatherill wants to hold a referendum on the issue.

On Monday afternoon, the South Australian Premier said the only path forward would be to ensure broad social consent and restore political bipartisanship, which can only be done through a referendum.

"I believe continued public debate about South Australia'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 on Monday.

"As I have previously stated, a large and controversial issue such as this would always be a test of our democracy.

"We will not pursue a change to our policy, but if the mood in the community shifts and bipartisanship is re-established we will remain open to this question."

A national nuclear waste dump has been debated for decades in South Australia, with the state home to several uranium mines.

Last week a citizen's jury decided against a nuclear waste dump, with two-thirds of jurors opting against it. The citizen's jury heard from more than 100 witnesses including a range of economic, industry and environmental experts.

If broad social consent were to be achieved through a referendum, local Aboriginal people would be given a final right of veto on any future facility.Jay Weatherill

Witnesses in the community, including Indigenous South Australians were also heard and the jury of more than 300 people delivered a 50-page report to the state premier outlining concerns.

"If broad social consent were to be achieved through a referendum, local Aboriginal people would be given a final right of veto on any future facility," Weatherill said on Monday.

"This final right of veto would exist if a proposed facility would impact upon their lands and would not be overridden by the broader community."

In February, the state government announced a Royal Commission would be established to investigate whether a nuclear waste dump could be built in the state.

Headed up by former Governor Kevin Scarce, the Commission delivered a report in May which has been deliberated by citizen's juries. A statewide consultation program was also developed to investigate the possibility of a nuclear waste dump further.

The state government's full response to the Commission will be delivered in Parliament on Tuesday. Weatherill has accused the Liberal Opposition Leader Stephen Marshall of withdrawing support before the consultation process had been completed.

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