Britain’s prime minister in waiting, Gordon Brown, makes an interesting pitch in today’s London Independent. He writes:

For too long too many governments thought their objectives began and ended with economic prosperity and jobs. But I believe that the world needs a new paradigm that moves the environmental challenge to the centre of policy.

Like many new paradigms, Brown’s ain’t really that new. But let him explain further:

We can and should demonstrate that economic growth, social justice and environmental care can and must advance together… I believe that global economic goals and global environmental goals are converging and can reinforce each other and that the basis for a new global consensus which all countries should be challenged to join lies in new detailed and substantive policies.

Locally, Labor’s Lindsay Tanner has covered similar ground. And it’s important territory.

We debate the work/family balance. We are much wealthier as a society, but what’s the point of wealth if we have no time to enjoy it with our loved ones – or simply have no time.

This is similar. The bumper stickers are right. “No economy without environment.” Wealth that comes from pillaging the planet will be short lived if there’s nothing left. But there’s also more to this than sloganeering – and obviously symbolic gestures, like Kyoto.

Brown talks about social democracy. Well, take this for a scenario: The two nations being mooted as potential customers for our uranium are China and India. They are the world’s two most populous nations. Both are in our region. Both are going through rapid periods of economic growth. Both need an energy source to make sure this growth can continue, yet greenhouse questions remain. Could our uranium fill this demand?

Social democrats should think about the social justice Australian uranium could help deliver. Australia has the chance to underpin prosperity in China and India and improve the standards of living of literally billions of people – cementing future friendly relations between our country and two giants of the unfolding century.

If Australia can assist the material well being of these two nations, then it should – and there’s more than just money involved. While China and India have their similarities, there is one enormous gap between the two. India is the world’s largest democracy. China is the world’s largest dictatorship. What if our uranium could bridge that gap?

One of the greatest lessons of the last few decades is how that increased wealth leads to democratisation. The process in China has not been easy. There have been false starts, like Tiananmen Square. Yet this must be the ultimate goal – democracy, peace and prosperity, here and in our region.

Talk about old new paradigms.

Peter Fray

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