One undisputed fact about nuclear power in Australia: it will be ten years, perhaps twenty, before the first steam-belching smokestack is visible from anyone’s back porch. Yet already, the NIMBY no-vote is loud and clear … and growing.
Rudd hasn’t pulled that card out yet, but at present he’s saying Australia doesn’t need a nuclear power industry because we have abundant renewable energy resources. He is supported by the Labor state premiers.
Howard on the other hand is hot for nuclear power, or at least a national debate on the issue, but he doesn’t enjoy the unanimous support of state counterparts. Victorian Liberal opposition leader Ted Baillieu outed his nuclear NIMBYism on the weekend:
I think the Prime Minister is right that we have to explore each and every alternative available, but when it comes to Victoria I don’t see that (nuclear power) is necessary. We have enormous fuel resources here in Victoria and I don’t see a nuclear industry being needed in Victoria.
Some simple rules of electoral geography pose problems for the government. It’s got more MPs, so it’s got more potential for strife. It’s also got MPs in the remote areas suggested as possible positions for a nuclear power plant, in regional Queensland and South Australia. Are they prepared to bet their political careers on nukes?
Townsville — Herbert, fairly safe Liberal
Mackay — Dawson, safe National
Rockhampton — marginal Labor
Gladstone — the new seat of Flynn, notionally National
Bundaberg — Hinkler, marginal National
Sunshine Coast, near Maroochydore, Coolum or Noosa — Wide Bay, safe Nationals
Bribie Island area — Longman, fairly safe Liberal
New South Wales
Port Stephens, near Nelson Bay — Paterson, fairly safe Liberal
Central Coast, near Tuggerah Lakes — Dobell, marginal Liberal
Botany Bay — Cook, safe Liberal
Port Kembla — Throsby, safe Labor
Sussex Inlet — Gilmore, fairly safe Liberal
Jervis Bay — Fraser, safe Labor, Commonwealth Territory surrounded by the seat of fairly safe Liberal seat of Gilmore
South Gippsland, near Yarram, Woodside, or Seaspray — Gippsland, fairly safe Nationals
Westernport, near Hastings, French Island, Koo Wee Rup, or Coronet Bay — Flinders, safe Liberal
Port Phillip, near Newport, Avalon, or Werribee — Corio or Gellibrand, both safe Labor
Portland — Wannon, safe Liberal
Coastal area, near Mount Gambier and Millicent — Barker, safe Liberal
Port Adelaide — Port Adelaide, safe Labor
Port Augusta and Port Pirie — Grey, safe Liberal