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When unequals are treated equally: The 2002 commission of inquiry into Orica's geomelt proposal
- Jensen-Lee, Catherine
- Journal of environmental management 2009 v.90 no.4 pp. 1613-1621
- hexachlorobenzene, waste disposal, citizen participation, decision making, case studies, politics, Australia
- This paper deals with the Commission of Inquiry (COI) established by the NSW Department of Planning to examine Orica's proposal to build a Geomelt plant at its Botany site to destroy its stockpile of Hexachlorobenzene. The Inquiry is analysed in light of the literature on democracy/democratisation. The paper argues that the standard operating procedures of the Inquiry ensured that all stakeholders were treated equally. However, this equality was found to be purely formal, and drawing on the critique of formal equality dating back to Aristotle, it is argued that treating unequals equally results in the circumvention of deliberative democratic ideals by perpetuating entrenched structural inequalities while nonetheless giving the superficial appearance of fair play.