“Kim Beazley’s push to overturn Labor’s
two-decade ban on expanding uranium mining is likely to succeed, with senior
powerbrokers confident a factional deal has been secured” The Australianreports today.
“Key figures in the Right and the Centre factions are believed to have
virtually guaranteed support for the Beazley motion.”

Here’s hoping – for his party’s sake. One
doesn’t need to be a Nobel laureate in economics to have noticed that there’s a
resources boom on – and that we’re enjoying an unprecedented period of
prosperity. The punters certainly have.

If Labor is to have any economic
credibility in the lead-up to next year’s poll, it has to support uranium

The world’s energy demands are projected to
double by the middle of the century. All Australians cannot be denied the
opportunity to participate in the wealth creating opportunities this will

That’s why the Premier of South Australia,
Mike Rann, is leading the push to overturn the three mines policy. It’s a
perfect microcosm of the debate. South Australians know all about what mining
can mean for an economy. Copper drove development of the colony in its very
earliest days, but the loss of population to Victoria in the
1850s almost strangled the young settlement. It never really recovered.

An industrialisation program after the
Second World War backed all the wrong horses – the state-supported, tariff
protected manufacturing industries that created the rustbelt of the 1990s. Now,
mining offers new hope for the state.

BHP Billiton is undertaking a $500 million feasibility study aimed at
doubling the size of the giant Olympic Dam uranium and copper mine. Earlier
this month, the Adelaide Advertiserreported the project could create up to 23,000 jobs during the construction and mining

“These are very, very high-paid jobs so we
are looking at a massive boost to our economy,” it quoted Rann as saying. “There
are 64 mining jurisdictions in the world and we have gone from about 34th…
three years ago to sixth in the world right now.”

That’s a significant economic – not to
mention psychological – boost for a state that last decade was regularly
recording unemployment rates of around 10%.

The state might only have a handful of seats,
but can Labor risk denying South
Australia the opportunity to fully
develop its uranium resources?

Leftover Seventies people are free to indulge
their superstitions over uranium. They shouldn’t be free to deny other people
the fruits of economic development.

Kim Beazley knows this. He knows it’s a
fundamental demonstration of leadership. That’s why he pressing on with his
policy – and why it has to succeed to give his party any hope of success at the

Peter Fray

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