In the past 24 hours, Labor has conclusively demonstrated why it does
not deserve to be elected into government any time soon, or indeed in
the foreseeable future. Which means that in addition to Labor
abrogating its responsibility to the electorate of providing a robust
and credible opposition, the Howard government will continue with its
remarkable arrogance and unaccountability.

With his
statements yesterday that now was not the time
to
consider the party’s policy on uranium and nuclear issues,
specifically in relation to the number of uranium mines, Kim Beazley
confirmed again that he is not a leader. After all, if not now, when?
Given prevailing circumstances, the question from caucus should be “why
were we caught napping…again?”

Federal Labor resources spokesman
Martin Ferguson made the only reasonable statement in calling for
a national debate (a call he was loathe to make some months ago when
the knives were out).

Federal Labor environment spokesman Anthony Albanese has demonstrated exactly why a national debate is
required. His inability to assess current operational aspects of
nuclear power and waste processing, and his belief that the environmental
movement only has a few people interested in assessing nuclear power in the face of
global climate change and the threat to species biodiversity reveals the
shallow thinker he is. He simply sounds like the Labor dogmatists of
old, stating arguments based on ideology and personal preference rather than objectively assessing the reality.

Worst of all is Mike Rann, SA Premier. This was the politician who,
concerned with the threat to his electorate in the north of Adelaide
from low level medical waste (so concerned that he moved to the more
salubrious Norwood) took the federal
government to court to prevent a national waste repository. Instead of
assembling all low level waste (this is primarily emitters of alpha
radiation) into a single secure site, his then politically pragmatic,
manipulative call, has left it distributed all over the nation at a
higher cost to the national healthcare system than would prevail in a
single site. Now, of course, with dollar signs looming large, he is
keen to see a revision of the Labor mines policy. He is a hypocrite par
excellence.

For this nation, a consensus on energy security and development is
critical. We will not see that initiative coming from a lame duck foreign
minister (who has the treaty responsibilities and who may soon be an
ex-foreign minister), nor will we see it from a Labor party that cannot
generate visionary, or even clear policy, on any matter of consequence.
This is why a national, objective and public debate is so essential.

Peter Fray

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