Southy Australian Premier Jay Weatherill – a martyr to the nuclear cause


Citizens’ jury decision spells nuclear disaster for Weatherill, Crikey, The citizens’ jury bombshell has left Jay Weatherill facing an unwinnable political conundrum, writes InDaily senior reporter Tom Richardson, 7 Nov 16  And either way, he will have to abandon one of two projects most closely associated with his premiership………nuclear was never genuinely on the political agenda until Weatherill put it there. It was in the Liberal policy grab-bag entitled “we support this but can’t be arsed genuinely advocating for it”, and on the extended wishlist of people like Business SA’s Nigel McBride…….

Steven Marshall wasn’t here to turn the knife on behalf of the oposition, because he is currently touring nuclear facilities in Finland, to make up for the bipartisan tour he pulled out of back in September.

Bipartisan support may be important, but nonetheless, for a nuclear waste dump to succeed it needed a champion from the nominal political left. And in putting it firmly on the agenda, Weatherill anointed himself that champion…….

If he forges on with the waste dump, he will be thumbing his nose at the findings of the citizens’ jury, effectively abandoning any pretence of consultative leadership and “riding roughshod” over public opinion — the very thing he criticised about the Rann administration.

If, however, he takes the jury’s unequivocal red light as an unnavigable road-block, he might as well hand back the keys right now.

For that will entail, once again, a term of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Weatherill has gambled plenty on the assumption that the will of the jury will reflect a grudging admiration for his “boldness” in putting the nuclear issue on the agenda.

Instead, it reflected a complete disconnect between the government and the governed, a lack of trust and a lack of faith that this administration — or any other — can deliver on such a proposal……

In an intriguing interview in September, Weatherill suggested his “courage” in tackling risky reform would be rewarded at the ballot box………

In the end, the most tangible upshot of the millions of dollars and thousands of hours spent on the question of a prospective high-level nuclear waste dump could be that the federal government’s comparatively uncontroversial low-to-medium-level repository is quietly green-lit.

In other words, the Government’s grandest achievement will have been to help allow something that it successfully blocked 12 years ago. (Incidentally, blocking it back in 2004 was also regarded as its grandest achievement at the time.)

The citizens’ jury has exposed a fatal flaw of the Weatherill administration’s brand right now. Like the nuclear waste on which it has staked its future, it is both toxic and heading for a deep hole.

Weatherill has shown himself deft at extricating himself from such situations in the past, but with little more than a year before he faces the polls he is haunted by a prophesy of his own creation.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” he warned us…And two years on, he couldn’t have been more right…….


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