… and has civic duty ever been mentioned in the nuke dump debate?
By ERWIN CHLANDA
“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.