The policy analyst known to Crikey readers as JF Smith writes:

The Australian reports today that uranium
will
be supplied to support China’s growing civil nuclear program – a story
brought to you by Crikey a couple of weeks ago (17 March, item 15). BHP
is
trading at $26.95 this morning, up considerably since the Crikey report
.

In a press conference this morning the Prime Minister stated that he
regarded the US approach to India on civil nuclear development as a
good thing, echoing the IAEA’s Mohamed El-Baradei – that international
involvement will increase scrutiny of the program.

Clearly, with Premier Wen’s visit in a few days, the PM and Minister
Downer must feel comfortable that Australian uranium will not be
diverted into any Chinese weapons program. The question the Indians
must now ask, of course, is that if arrangements can be made for China
then surely, and especially with the US stance on Indian nuclear power,
Australia can provide uranium under a similar arrangement.

The necessity to reduce pollution output from India and China is
critical for global health and for the health of the populations of
those nations.
Tony Blair, standing with the PM this morning made this clear, quoting
figures that show a complete elimination of Australian pollution
outputs would be made up in 10 months by China’s output.

While Australia has a relatively small greenhouse output (in total
terms), our per capita output is extremely high. Pushing the Chinese
and Indians to clean up their pollution streams will be morally
difficult while we still burn coal and gas. But the real motivation for
nuclear in those countries is at least a level of energy security. As
it perhaps should be here in Australia.

As usual we are lagging in the consideration and decision making
necessary – even if our final decision was not to develop a civilian
program. This is a debate we must have – and one that must then extend
to other public policy matters, most importantly the issue of what is
the vision the PM and current government have for this nation. Labor
continues to implode and cannot be looked to for leadership or
alternatives, let alone vision.

Of course, if this government cannot openly address energy security for
Australia then any vision is irrelevant. As its backbench ranks clearly
understand.

Peter Fray

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