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stamping on the feds toes « Previous | |Next »
June 3, 2003

The Rann Government's resolute opposition to the Commonwealth's proposal to establish a low-level radioactive waste dump by 2004 at site 40a on Arcoona Station near Woomera is one of the best things they are doing.

Making this site and the nearby site 45a parks is an excellent move. Making things as difficult as is constitutionally possible for the Commonwealth on this issue is a good strategy. The Commonwealth's claim that establishing a low-level radioactive waste dump by at site 40a on Arcoona Station is in the general or national interest is a dubious one.

This fight shows the value of federalism. Often dismissed as a constitutional constraint on democracy, federalism enables a little state in a federation like SA to have its say and to express its own values. This is no momentary passion, state self-interest, factionalism or myopia as Canberra suggests. It is a considered judgement in face of the Commonwealth's desire to take the question off the political agenda. It is about local self-determination in democratic politics of the naton state given that a threat to secede is not credible.

SA is deploying a deep dissatisfaction to call the nation to account through democratic politics to highlight the heavy handedness and dubious politics of the Commonwealth. Without the separation of powers in federalism we in South Australia would be walked over. With these powers of divided rule we as a sovereign people can pressure the state government to make it harder for the executive in Canberra to act.

Difference and diversity within a federation are the strengths of democracy rather than weaknesses in the face of a technocratic rationality. This is a rationality deployed by a powerful state that is equipped with extensive scientific and technological resources and is determined to transform nature. Such a rationality is in the process of becoming detached from human and ecological values, freed from the constraints of civil society and democratic politics.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:04 AM | | Comments (0)