I am in fact, in favour of the Citizens’ Jury Idea. Instead of us being ‘talked down to’ by experts, (who are likely to have a vested interest in the nuclear waste import plan), ordinary non experts hear all the evidence and opposing opinions, discuss these, and come up with a sensible verdict.
After all, that is what we expect in a criminal trial. We do not trust the verdict to “experts” although we do expect their opinions to be heard.
My problem with the South Australia’s Citizens’ Jury on nuclear waste importing is that it doesn’t seem to be given a truly jury role.
The letter sent to potential jury participants says that their task will be to produce an independent guide to help every South Australian understand the recommendations raised by the Royal Commission’s report.
No mention of a verdict on whether or not the jury thinks that the nuclear waste import plan should go ahead.
The organisation running the process, newDemocracy, is using a trademarked definition of ‘Citizens’ Jury’ That trademark belongs to the Jefferson Center. They define the term;
The Citizens Jury convenes diverse groups of citizens to study an issue deeply, discuss different perspectives on the issue,and recommend a course of action or craft their own solutions to address the issue at hand.
I would like to give newDemocracy the benefit of the doubt. Their all too brief notes on this plan do end with this statement:
The first stage of the project will run from May through November 2016, and results in a gateway decision as to whether or not there is broad social consent to continue to pursue opportunities related to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle.