Bernardi backs nuclear dump for SA

Australian Conservatives Leader Cory Bernardi has launched his party's SA election campaign.
Australian Conservatives Leader Cory Bernardi has launched his party's SA election campaign.

South Australia could become the "Saudi Arabia of the south" by tapping into a huge revenue stream from building a high-level nuclear waste dump in the state's north, the Australian Conservatives say.

The decision to expand the search for a storage site to the rest of Australia came after the proposal to house waste at Muckaty Station, near Tennant Creek, was abandoned.

Launching the party's campaign for the state election, founder and federal leader Cory Bernardi said it was time to take the "ideological blinkers" off and revive the conversation over the construction of a dump and the development of a nuclear power plant.

Acknowledging the party's proposals were a "long burn" given the revenue from a dump would take years to flow, Senator Bernardi said it would allow for $3 billion in annual taxes to be scrapped, including payroll tax and the emergency services levy.

It would also allow for $550 million to spent on the state's hospitals, $250 million more on education and $250 million more on roads.

Senator Bernardi said the dump would generate about $6.7 billion in annual revenue which could retire all state debt and build a wealth fund that would climb to $445 billion over the 100-year lifespan of the dump.

"We would be an economic powerhouse. We would be the strongest state in the commonwealth," he told about 100 party members at the launch on Sunday.

South Australia's role in the nuclear fuel cycle was the subject of a royal commission which recommended in 2016 that the state government pursue the idea of a dump because of the revenue potential at the same time finding a nuclear power plant would be unviable.

However, the idea of a dump was dropped by the government after a citizens' jury, made up of 300 randomly selected people, came out strongly against the proposal.

On Sunday, Premier Jay Weatherill said simply that the debate over the issue was "dead" at the same time dismissing the Australian Conservatives as another Liberal "schism".

"There's a lot of choice on the conservative side of politics," he said.

But Australian Conservatives state leader Dennis Hood said reviving the nuclear debate represented a better way for South Australia as he called on both Labor and the Liberals to back his party's approach.

"We could be the Saudi Arabia of the south," he said.

At present, the Australian Conservatives have just two MPs in the upper house, Mr Hood and Rob Brokenshire, with Mr Brokenshire up for re-election on March 17.

Both were elected to parliament as Family First MPs before merging with Senator Bernardi's group last year.

The Australian Conservatives are also running candidates in 33 of the state's 47 lower-house seats.

Australian Associated Press

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