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South Australia

Nov 3, 2016

Manufacturing consent for SA’s nuclear program

The SA government has turned to a "citizen's jury" to manufacture trust in its nuclear policy. But the process is far from independent, writes University of Adelaide politics lecturer Benito Cao.

This weekend the Nuclear Citizens’ Jury is expected to deliver a report to South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill that will shape the future of the nuclear industry in this country. But although the jury is presented as a non-partisan body able to make a decision in the state’s best interest, the Premier has designed it so it will return the result he wants.

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19 thoughts on “Manufacturing consent for SA’s nuclear program

  1. shea mcduff

    “But although the jury is presented as a non-partisan body able to make a decision in the state’s best interest, the Premier has designed it so it will return the result he wants.”

    I’m shocked!

  2. Zarathrusta

    I’ve already rung my nearest ALP member and told them that
    1) I feel highly excluded from this process
    2) The whole process from commission to “citizen’s” jury was rigged.
    3) That they were insane to back a sunset industry.
    If they think this is going to create trust they are sadly mistaken. It has totally corroded my faith in government as an institution and destroyed the last vestiges of time I had for the ALP. I will punish them in perpetuity for this. If I have to elect Molotov cocktails like Donald Trump into parliment to “Drain the Swamp” that is the ALP and the Liberal Party I will not hesitate to do so. I will now vote for ANYTHING before either of them.

    1. shea mcduff

      Virtually all of my family , friends and acquaintances have voted #1 for the ALP in SA for decades.
      At a recent family ‘do’ of about a 100 of us, I was surprised to hear nearly all of them state, some rather bluntly, that they are going to put the ALP dead last at the next election because of the pro- nuclear stand of the ALP.

  3. Lince Del Bosque

    But wait! There’s more! The information about the members of New Democracy Foundation has suddenly been cleaned up. I know. I have the former list. Nick Greiner, who let’s face it, isn’t a good look as Chair of the Research Committee given the schemozzle that is the Nuclear Citizens’ Jury, is no longer chair. The much more benign Gallup is. Laura Tingle has appeared – gives a nice touch of cred. Editing of profiles proceeding apace….uncomfortable references to interests in energy industry are not welcome if jurors are currently checking these people out. They are polishing the turd. But it’s still a turd.

  4. Benito Cao

    Well spotted Lince del Bosque. I just checked my folder with all the information I have been compiling since I began looking into this issue, and you are spot on. It might just be a coincidence, but newDemocracy Foundation has just added Laura Tingle to the Research Committee (which now has 5 rather than 4 people), but the more interesting (and intriguing) bit is the switching roles of Nick Greiner and Geoff Gallop. If you want to see this is graphic display, I’ve put it together as a photo in my Twitter feed:

  5. graybul

    Another example of why electorate is disengaging from political process. Elites have no respect whatsoever for voter priorities, interests or beliefs.

    Regretful Laura Tingle has agreed to associate / participate in such a deceptive process.

    1. Lince Del Bosque

      I suspect she went in blind. They would have bamboozled her. I don’t blame her. But to insist on the point – Nick Greiner has just been demoted from Chair of Research Committee because if you look at his business activities since he left parliament, you are going to see: infrastructure, transport (including railways, what a surprise), energy….indeed, a strong correlation with the business interests of Transfield Holdings. People, it is not about questioning democracy or even elites. It is about questioning new Democracy Foundation, particularly in terms of how the citizens’ jury is being cynically applied in an allegedly neutral fashion to the Nuclear issue in SA. They are taking us for chumps. See Adele Ferguson “Electricity network selloff may give infrastructure the kick-start it needs”

      1. Lince Del Bosque

        Shall we say – having Luca Belgiorno-Nettis of Transition Holdings as founder of New Democracy Foundation, and Greiner of head of research committee was a very bad look indeed! Now they’re in damage control.

  6. Valerie Bainbridge

    Thank goodness, Benito, you have laid out exactly what I have recently experienced and have added valuable information regarding the composition of the group managing the process. I have been surveyed by telephone, attended one of the Public Information sessions and last night was invited to participate in a Focus group. Everything that you have outlined has been central to the process used to conduct the sessions I have been party to. The information session was a glossy PR exercise with only “experts” from the Nuclear Industry available to talk to individuals. There was no group discussion where the interested public could exchange views and inform each other without the structure of the controlling organizers. The survey was highly structured and certainly nudged in the direction of the “amber” option. The Focus group last night was all female, all highly educated with predominantly a science or Health professional background. Two of us were Educators. The session nudged towards the amber option and when I challenged the weighting of one of the questions, the facilitator was highly defensive and promised to offer a different option after we had dealt with the structured question. Needless to say she never did. A more intriguing aspect of the process was we were informed that we were being observed through a two way mirror by State Government and Industry observers but were not invited to meet these people. The session was videoed to, “help the facilitator write up her report”. Two of us (older members) were “red light” advocates. The remainder drifted to the “amber option”. Mission accomplished. A very disturbing and depressing outcome. We were each given $70.00 “incentive payments”. I will be donating mine to an environmental group.I drove nearly 50Kms to attend the session, in the evening, because I left the UK over 40 years ago to escape the effects, particularly for my two young children, of living next to Sellafield in the UK, a Nuclear installation with significant high level nuclear waste, stored above ground, (the current first stage option of the SA Government proposal)and still awaiting a suitable site for disposal. The greatest incentive was because I believe opposing voices need to be heard. Needless to say I felt it was a fruitless exercise because of the structured process used, as described by you, which could only, I believe, result in the outcome that had already been decided i.e. “amber light”. One last comment; we were told we were not allowed to discuss the content of the session. I don’t believe I’ve contravened that caveat. If I have so be it.

    1. Benito Cao

      Valery, you are one brave lady. Thanks for being so open and so direct about your experience. You, and others like you, who feel trapped in this massive web of spin doctoring, are what inspired me to write this piece. I sacrificed the celebration of my 20 years in Australia (I arrived in Adelaide in October 9, 1996) to spend the whole day sharing my concerns and my insights with the jurors. I thought that was going to be it. But then, somehow I was selected by the jurors to come back as a witness last Saturday. In that time, several jurors shared with me their concerns about the managed-within-an-inch-of-its-life process and the constant, Orwellian monitoring. That made me think hard about the process, and that inspired my talk, which is the basis for this article. What you just wrote not only validates my analysis of this process but paints a much darker light on it than even I had imagined. The horror!

      1. Valerie Bainbridge

        Thanks Benito. It is hard to speak up. Thank you for giving me the incentive.

        1. Benito Cao

          By the way, feel free to email me at:

    2. Benito Cao

      Sorry, I meant to write Valerie. I wish I could edit the Reply. Sincere apologies.

      1. Valerie Bainbridge

        No problem

        1. Mary-Rose Alfonsi

          Valerie, I admire your courage to share your experience of participation in this joke of an exercise in democracy!! Do politicians and corporations really believe ordinary people are so stupid that they can’t smell the stench of deception and manipulation. It’s insulting, particularly on a matter of such enormous significance to South Australia and Indigenous people. I’m aghast and as someone who is a Labor voter with Green sympathies, I’m at the stage where I may have to accept that my trust in the Labor party has been dashed.

  7. CML

    I think France produces about 85% of its energy from nuclear sources. I haven’t noticed the French people objecting…or are they all ‘controlled’ as suggested above?
    I live in SA…talk about conspiracy theories. The author and the commentators here remind me of reading the letters page in our daily Mudrake offering…the Advertiser! Full of Lying Nasty Party supporter’s views!!

    1. Lince Del Bosque

      Seriously? Ever heard of Google? The French DID protest. Lots. And when they protest, they protest hard. Trouble is, the French state then (and now) considers nuclear energy to be a matter of state security, so they just bring out the nice gents in the jackboots and batons to deal with the problem. Public consent just doesn’t enter the equation.
      As for conspiracies, holy cow. Fact: as questions emerge about the role of newDemocracy Foundation in this process, Laura Tingle suddenly included on board, and Greiner removed as Chair of research committee. Fact: Greiner is up to eyeballs in the sorts of commercial interests that are directly relevant to the issue being studied by the nuclear citizens’ jury. Fact: Greiner is, according to his own website (which I have screenshotted, as websites seem to be edited with astonishing speed at the moment), Chairman of Crosby Textor, the infamous….oh, hang on….why you don’t just Google it.
      My real concern here is not that we are going to wind up with jackbooted gents throwing tear gas. More like, we will end up with a Kochtopus like the US has (Google this. But there’s a book by Jane Mayer called “Dark Money” that’ll point you in the direction I mean). Super rich individuals, funding an infinity of “research institutes” and “public advocacy” organisations, which oddly enough, produce research and policy outcomes that are favourable to these super rich founders. Only, in the US, people like the Koch brothers are much better at covering their tracks.

  8. shea mcduff

    From SBS 7/11/2016
    “Jury knocks back SA nuclear dump proposal …..
    The jury presented its final report to the state government on Sunday with 70 per cent of its 350 members unwilling to support the proposal for a dump under any circumstances.
    Their majority report raised questions over safety and cost and also highlighted a lack of trust in the government to deliver, run and adequately regulate such a facility.
    It also emphasised the strong objections of indigenous communities and questioned its economic viability, ruling that claims it could raise billions of dollars were based on “assumptions with little support”.
    “Many jurors believe we don’t have a right to make a decision that will have such long-term and irreversible consequences for future generations,” the report said.”

  9. Dog's Breakfast

    Bit of a classic stitch up, and better still that they didn’t get their desired end (Thanks McDuff!)

    Yes, Minister did this so brilliantly on the issue of conscription, with Sir Humphrey schooling Bernard on how to get the desired result.