Fund Solar City and Water Smart, not footy lights: Alice environmentalists


… and has civic duty ever been mentioned in the nuke dump debate?
“Investments such as the CBD revitalisation that have been decided a long time ago, now they actually have to get that happening,” says Arid Lands Environment Centre CEO Jimmy Cocking in a comment on Labor’s election commitments.
“It’s been talked about since I’ve been here, four and a half years, and still we haven’t seen a whole lot coming out of it.
“There have been some consultations, some draft plans, but what we need is a financial commitment from the Territory Government.
“I think it would be much better to spend money on this than on lights for Traeger Park.
“I’d like to see some more commitment to existing programs such as Alice Solar Cities and Alice Water Smart.
“I saw nothing in the policy commitments for that. That’s really important for us for that momentum to keep going.”
Mr Cocking was speaking this morning at a protest (pictured) against uranium mining and the proposed nuclear waste repository at Muckaty Station near Tennant Creek.
About a dozen protesters displayed a giant replica of a barrel containing radioactive waste during a “snap action” at the Larapinta Drive and Stuart Highway fiveways intersection this morning.
Meanwhile the current New York Review of Books raises a notion so far absent from the local uranium debate: Civic duty.
The magazine is publishing a review by Jeremy Waldon of the book by Michael J Sandel “What money can’t buy: the moral limits of markets”. The following is part of it:-
In the 1990s, the government of Switzerland identified a small mountain village called Wolfenschiessen as a possible location for a nuclear waste repository.
There was to be a local referendum on the issue, but before that some economists conducted a survey.
They asked residents: Would you vote to accept a nuclear waste repository in your community if the Swiss Parliament voted to put it there? A bare majority said they would.
Then the economists asked another question: Would you vote to accept the repository if the Parliament voted to pay each resident of the village monetary compensation – quite a lot of money: as much as the equivalent of several thousand dollars per annum, higher than local monthly per capita income – for locating it there?
In response to this question, support for the repository collapsed from 51% to 25%.
The citizens of Wolfenschiessen said this was a matter on which they should not be bribed.
 Of course those offering the compensation would resist that description. But whether you call it a bribe or compensation, a monetary payment threatened [in the words of the author being reviewed] to transform a civic question into a pecuniary one, leaving no room for any sense that this was simply a civic duty.
And without the help of philosophical intervention, the villagers saw it this way from the start and responded accordingly.
The siting of the repository is still under consideration.


  1. As the IndependeNT candidate for Greatorex, the people of the electorate and I oppose any mining licence being granted for Angela Pamela and the the nuclear waste deposit being dumped at Muckaty Station. Until such times as nuclear waste can be stored securely, it should stay where it is … in the ground! We have several renewable alternatives that can secure sustainability.

  2. We all have a duty to help make a good decision about how best to manage this long lived nuclear waste, that will remain a hazard to human health and the environment well beyond the foreseeable future. A remote (out of sight / out of mind) location like Muckaty may not be the best management plan.
    Hoping for the best, we’ll probably do a better job of looking after this unique burden if it remains in sight of the experts – the nuclear boffins at ANSTO who produced the waste in the first place.
    Planning for the worst, we probably shouldn’t dump the waste anywhere that is entirely dependent on groundwater.
    But ultimately, the best decision is one that is politically stable: anything that is forced upon an unwilling target is highly susceptible to being challenged and eventually overturned.
    Some people insist that the only option is to dump it on someone who can’t fight back, dismissing the scenario of a fully informed community making the difficult decision to host nuclear waste, such as in your Swiss example. But in fact, here in Australia we’ve never tried.
    We’ve had around 20 years of the failed strategy of imposition; perhaps it is time for Australia to try and see if a genuinely consultative process can’t be more successful.

  3. Phil, it’s a pity you’re not as proactive in alcohol supply reduction as you are in uranium mining. You appear to be conservative in that aspect of community health.

  4. Bit of an ambit claim there Phil – “the people of the electorate and I”.
    There are opposing views in any electorate, even though I suspect not a large opposing view in this particular case.

  5. @Phil Walcott 20, 2012 at 9:00pm.
    You say “As the IndependeNT candidate for Greatorex, the people of the electorate and I oppose any mining licence being granted for Angela Pamela and the nuclear waste deposit being dumped at Muckaty Station.”
    For the moment Phil, we’ll have to enter this one under Phil Walcott’s book of big statements.
    The Alice, just like Arkaroola, is no place for a u-mine. It is your classic no brainer and as one who loves the Alice, I am sure that you know Phil where I am coming from.
    I reckon about 50% of the Greatorex electorate would agree with your current position on Angela Pamela (CAMECO) and Muckaty.
    D. R. Chewings aka THE lone dingo.


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