Friday, 4 April 2008

Speaking out for nuclear

A few words from recent news articles.

April-4 Herald-Sun

"I am not talking about next year or in five years but long-term energy policy. We have got to think about all these sources of energy and that includes coal and that must include nuclear,'' he [recently-appointed chairman of Qantas, Leigh Clifford] said.

And in an April-3 issue of the Daily Telegraph (no link) Malcolm Farr penned a report titled, 'Please ignore the nuclear elephant in the room'.

OUR two major political parties are in coy agreement over the benefits of nuclear energy. At the same time, however, they both refuse to say it would help Australia.

They recommend that other countries use uranium, preferably the stuff we produce, to fuel power stations which otherwise would be pumping out harmful carbon emissions from incinerated fossils. But, for purely political reasons, they won't say the same for their own country.

This two-faced approach to nuclear energy is one of the starkest instances of policy hypocrisy we have seen.

The logical conflict is increasingly uncomfortable for some senior figures in Labor and the Liberal Party as they contort themselves to avoid saying what they really believe. The strain is starting to tell. Bouts of nuclear frankness may be ahead.

"Around the world nuclear power today reduces global emissions by more than 2 billion tonnes a year.''

Love that metaphor!

And from The Age on April 2 - Labor resurrects Howard's uranium plan

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, an enthusiastic industry advocate, has reconvened the Uranium Industry Framework, a hand-picked advisory group appointed by the previous government.

But Mr Ferguson says the Government will not pursue an idea the previous government flirted with — over-riding state bans in Western Australia and Queensland that prevent new uranium mines or other nuclear activities.

Mr Ferguson says Canberra will not override those states, but says it is only a matter of time before mining developments occur in those states, which have large uranium deposits.

He predicts substantial growth in nuclear power outside Australia.

"Some countries see nuclear as part of their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Mr Ferguson said.

"Uranium mining has got a bright future and it's going to lead to increased export earnings for Australia and jobs."

If there is a future for nuclear power in Australia, I can't see it coming to fruition without strong bi-partisan support from the beginning. But this is not unique to nuclear power. Serious carbon emissions reductions will require the same collaboration. If one party attempts to milk political capital from rising energy prices, increasing blackout frequencies or perceived threats to the coal industry - that effort will be seriously challenged.

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