Kevin Rudd was not a rugby type when he attended the posh Marist College Ashgrove as a boarder, the journalist profile writer told us last week in the Sydney Morning Herald, so it’s not surprising that he is proficient at the hospital pass. He showed that at the weekend when gaining his predicted victory on uranium export policy at Labor’s national conference. The logical absurdity of defending mining at three places but banning it at any others is no longer the problem of the Federal Labor Leader. From now on it is state Labor governments alone which must make the decision about allowing new uranium mines.
The Labor Premiers and Chief Ministers will not be thanking their federal colleague for this transfer of powers. From now on it’s the State governments which will have to deal with what is still a very contentious subject within the Labor Party. The vote in Sydney at the national conference to abolish export controls showed that. The majority in favour of Mr Rudd’s position of abolishing export restrictions was narrow. If his prestige had not so clearly been at stake, in all likelihood the vote would have gone the other way. What allowed opponents of uranium expansion among the delegates to live with their consciences by finding a proxy prepared to vote the other way was the knowledge that they in fact would live to fight another day. Instead of the federal conference being the important forum for deciding what happens to uranium mining it will now be a matter for the eight state and territory Labor Conferences to determine.
The stock market certainly should not be ramping up the prices of would-be-uranium-miners just yet. State ALP conferences are far more democratic affairs than the state managed charade held in Sydney. In all likelihood the vote in every state would be to order state and territory Labor governments not to allow new mines.
Note: the SMH article about the Rudd years at Ashgrove is well worth a read with its insights in to a period of his life that does not quite fit the log cabin to the lodge image so far portrayed.