Nuclear NIMBYism:

David Havyatt writes: Re. “Nuclear NIMBYism: what could it mean for members?” (yesterday, item 9). At the ALP conference Kevin Rudd had a list of 27 Coalition members who had ruled out a nuclear power plant in their electorate. I don’t think the advocate of nuclear power was among them — and we know nuclear power plants need lots of water. So the obvious location is by the Parramatta — say at Putney! I wonder what the local member thinks?

Geoff Russell writes: Once you find a backyard to put a nuclear reactor in, then you need to find foreign exchange to buy it. In Australia’s case that means we ramp up coal production or aluminum or beef. Suddenly the “clean, green energy source” starts looking decidedly dirty. But nobody cares, because the emissions from burning the coal end up on someone else’s carbon balance sheet.

Victoria Collins writes: Re. “Bob Hawke should star in Liberal nuclear ads” (yesterday, item 8). Essentially I’m with Bob Hawke on this one but I think even he is behind the times with respect to his assessment of where to put radioactive waste; that is, unless he is basing his proposal simply on making a few bob for the Aborigines out of it. For there is an option which has been extensively researched, is far safer, yet which has not yet, to my knowledge, been advocated in any Australian public forum. That option involves the concept of disposing of these wastes by burial in suitable, stable geological media beneath the deep ocean floor, in isolated regions under water at least 4000m deep. The objective is to implant waste packages beneath the sea floor in such a way that the barrier properties of sediments can isolate the radio nuclides for 1000s of years. Potential disposal sites must possess thick, weak, relatively homogenous sediments of very fine particles & not be near the edge of any tectonic plates. Sounds OK to me and if Labor under Kevin Rudd were really as smart as people say then they could not only advocate this as a solution to the waste problem but also propose much safer Thorium-based, Pebble Bed reactors as part of their suite of responses to global warming and then really show up Howard & Co. as the captives of “dirty” uranium-based nuclear power that they undoubtedly are.

Ken Lambert writes: When Kruddy was delivering his recent speech at the Brookings Institute, he was within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant, and the Brookings lights were partly running on nuclear power. Didn’t seem to bother him did it? Powerpoint Pete (Beattie) could not have Queensland “beautiful one day and nuclear the next”, yet on his last trip to Paris, France, over 70% of the power he consumed was courtesy of that filthy uranium. Uranium power does not seem to have deterred the Labor boys from frequenting France or the USA, does it? Paris patron Paul Keating never seemed put off a clock-hunting expedition by the dread thought of uranium-powered Parisienne salons. In fact, while he was dumping on Darwin, depriving the natives of Jabiluka royalties while sucking up to Suharto, Indonesia was planning nuclear power stations on some of the least stable geology in the world. China is building 14 nuclear plants and is trialling the pebble-bed reactor invented by Dr Kwan Wan, to whom we will in future be paying royalties to show us dumb white trash how to safely generate electricity from a non-meltdownable reactor. We are very good at digging the stuff out of the ground, but useless at exploiting and controlling the reality of nuclear energy; the only serious alternative to fossil fuel for central power generation feasible within the next 20 years.

Ange Kenos writes: John Howard has taken advice from his buddy, George the Bush and decided that he will grant nuclear reactor licenses to his many mates across the nation, including Ron Walker whose letter to John of 2006 was kept secret until a couple of months ago. But for Mr Howard to try to divorce the locations of these nuclear reactors from the decision itself is totally unacceptable. Put in the simplest of terms, if Mr Howard is re-elected as Prime Minister then during the course of the next three years we will see a number of nuclear reactors built across Australia. At a cost of $2.5 billion dollars each that will bite significantly into the economy and force prices across many sectors up as the men behind these reactors seek to recoup their investments almost immediately. And that means by making you and me pay more for everything that they produce. But the key issue here is the very threat to each and every one of us as nuclear reactors are built — next to our schoolyards, our hospitals, our shopping centres, our rivers… This is not scare-mongering because the very land that is most attractive to a nuclear reactors tends to be located next to a river. Then the next choices are often the same areas where many schools etc are located. Mr Howard does not want us to think about such things but if we do not then we will be to blame when they are built so close to us that many will have nightmares about a Chernobyl in our own communities.

Greg Dahl writes: With the level of hydro generation dropping with rainfall levels in Tasmania, serious thought must be brought to bear regarding power generation in Tasmania. Tassie either needs to increase its hydro generation capacity (Gordon below Franklin), tap into the Bass Straight gas fields for a large scale gas power plant or go nuclear. It would need a courageous government to go nuclear, witnessing the trouble that getting a pulp mill started is causing, however if the mill goes ahead I would put the nuclear power plant right next to it. It could power the pulp mill and Launceston simultaneously. Basslink was meant to be an outlet for excess Tassie power, but in effect recently it is an inlet for under generation in Tassie. It is unlikely that this can be afforded in the long term. The stench (metaphorical) of a nuclear power plant appears to be irrational having witnessed the widespread European use of nuclear power. The lies told about the death toll at Chernobyl feeds that fear. It will never happen down here, but power generation needs to be urgently addressed in Tasmania.

Raoul Dunk writes: I was amused by Kevin Rudd’s assertion on the weekend that John Howard was adopting the Montgomery Burns solution to Global Warming. Anyone noticed the remarkable similarity of Kevin to Mr Burn’s toady, Waylon Smithers?

Kevin Rudd’s Brisbane:

Lloyd Lacey writes: Re. “The uranium hospital pass” (yesterday, item 7). Farmer’s recommended reading — Cosimo Marriner’s account of Kevin Rudd’s school days (SMH, 29 April 07) — offers its best insights into Marriner’s imagination. Someone should shout Marriner a trip to Brisbane to update up his local knowledge — he might be able to bluff the Sydney push, but his colour piece looks pretty thin from here. For a start, Marriner seems to have confused the Brisbane Club (jacket and tie optional, for heaven’s sake) with the Queensland Club — the latter is truly “exclusive” — or perhaps Tattersalls? And was Marist College Ashgrove “elitist” in 1970? Hardly – and it still isn’t a member of the GPS group. Maybe Marriner was thinking of Brisbane Grammar or Anglican Grammar with their five-figure fees and boat sheds and Olympic pools? And as for city views from Ashgrove, the school sits on a small hump in a suburban valley! Thirty-seven years since Kevin’s day, the city spires are now just in view from the old central tower. Perhaps Marriner is confused with Stuartholme School, halfway up the Taylor Range, or any one of a dozen schools with unbroken city views — like Brisbane State High? As for the Marist ovals, they grew from rubble strewn paddocks that the borders helped to clear during World War II. Contrary to the insinuations by Marriner, Ashgrove Marist in 1970 was anything but a silver spoon experience — a good traditional Catholic education, enforced by the cane with apparently, according to Marriner’s snide reference, a dressing of undue brotherly attention. Hardly a cushy ride on a par with Hunters Hill. Quite simply, the Marist Brothers extended a helping hand (as they did for many) but it didn’t work out for Kevin – pretty much the way Kevin Rudd tells it! Like the other Winston (Churchill), it seems Kevin found boarding school was no privileged treat at all.

The complaints department:

Jim Hart writes: Re. “For the complaints department” (yesterday, item 16). I’m at a loss to understand why you chose to publish, not just verbatim but in facsimile, the not very remarkable complaint by an unhappy and frustrated traveler at Adelaide airport. Many people get stressed and angry at airports; some of them abuse the nearest undeserving employee; this man instead wrote to the airport manager who may or may not be responsible but that’s not the point. Presumably someone at the airport then passed this on to Christian Kerr who embellished it with a couple of glib lines and shared it with the Crikey audience, whence it will no doubt circulate further, complete with the sender’s name and where he probably works. It doesn’t look like you got the author’s permission so what happened to issues of privacy and propriety? Or copyright for that matter. And the issue is hardly in the national interest so the right-to-know defence won’t go far. So why did you do it?

Latham and Rudd:

Frank Golding writes: Your editorial yesterday on how kindly media commentators (“no wonder they’re on the big bucks”) treated Mark Latham in the lead-up to the 2004 election, with contemporary parallels with Kevin Rudd, prompted me to recall how Crikey handled Latham at the same time. Even the best commentators — not only those not on “big bucks” — get it wrong sometimes too.

Scotland and British politics:

Doug Melville writes: Re. “Another wee nail in coffin of imperial glory” (yesterday, item 18). Rory Cahill writes about the possibility of Scottish independence, but he has neglected to include a very large part of the story. For years, Scotland has loyally returned Labour candidates to the Westminster Parliament, in one particularly memorable election, returning precisely no Conservative members. The Thatcher Government was then forced to scramble to try to find MPs to head the Scottish Office, and who might be thought to have even a little tartan blood in their veins. Scottish independence would be an absolute gift to the Conservative Party in the UK, removing at one stroke, a large number of Labour MPs from Westminster, and almost guaranteeing a “natural” Conservative majority based in the South of England.


Roger Cooper writes: Re. “Fairfax I: never mind the truth, feel the width” (Friday, item 4). Fairfax is turning into a ship of penny-grabbing fools. They now rip readers off with their “special Friday long weekend editions”, charging us $2.20 for a Friday paper. The Saturday paper is still loaded up with exactly the same real estate advertising sections etc that came on Friday. This from the mob that was promoting a Save the Planet day at the end of March. Now some clown has decided that the horse racing form guide will come separately and you have to ask your newsagent. Apparently up here in northern NSW the local newsagent got 200 SMH and 40 lots of The Form. Meant I bought the Tele for a second week in a row. A mate in Sydney has had a similar experience, though the apologetic newsagent’s excuse there was “They’re coming with the second delivery”. Not much good when you’ve a train to the city to catch.

The Virgin Blues cont’d:

John Mellor writes: Re. “When it comes to pilots, Virgin can’t count” (Thursday, item 3). Virgin Blue has done an excellent job of creating its brand as an alternative to Qantas. Resort operators have been urging them on because they want to reduce the Flying Kangaroo’s grip on some of the more isolated tourist towns. Competition on remote routes lowers pricey air fares and therefore makes holidays more affordable or means tourist can afford an extra day or two at holiday destinations. Resort operators are also conscious that accommodation for Virgin Blue passengers is unlikely to have been booked through Qantas Holidays which charges resorts a whopping 25 per cent commission on the rooms it books. But the cheer squad for Virgin Blue in Broome has turned decidedly surly following Virgin’s decision to chop flights in and out of the town because of under-capacity. Word from resort operators is that some 11,600 Virgin seats are to be cut over the next month. That’s a lot of rooms. The cancelations have already started and, according to resort operators, some of their guests already in Broome are wondering how they can afford to pay the extra to fly home. Add $1000 more if your party has to move to Qantas. What the tourist industry in Broome is wondering is why the town was singled out? Surely it would be more equitable for Virgin flights to be dropped from a variety of routes rather than target Broome, they argue. They’re not happy and it’s a great lesson in how to bugger a brand in a prime holiday destination.

The ABC of interviewing:

David Lenihan writes: Re. ABC programming (Friday, item 22). While on the national broadcaster, can’t help but notice the new interviewing technique by Aunty’s recently promoted chief political reporter. He seems to want to impress with a ” I’m going to ask the hard questions, so don’t mess with me” style. Problem is, he should perhaps understand the art of a good interviewer is to ask good questions, listen and come back with another equally good question, don’t leap in over the top of an answer to the extent of being rude and boring, regardless if it’s Howard, Rudd or whoever. I find the more seasoned interviewee, will soon tire of the bully boy tactic and respond as they wish, regardless of the point of the question. Howard is a past-master as was Keating before him. The ABC appears to have changed tack recently, Media Watch, Insiders, Australian Story and the 7.30 Report showing a distinct change of emphasis in style. Perhaps there has been some nudging of backsides as we approach a General Election, or more to the point, has there been a “do as you are told” directive to the current affairs staff. I am all for good solid interviews, asking intelligent researched questions, but not to satisfy the whims of who is paying the salaries. The art of broadcasting should always allow the talents of the communicator full steam ahead, always remembering they are not a contestant on some Idol extravaganza.


Robert Bromic writes: The “electoral colleges” I referred to in yesterday’s edition (yesterday, comments) was supposed to read “electoral college VOTES” –my stuff-up, rest assured that head is sore from hitting against desk as punishment. The list I mentioned is still available to Crikey and AEC upon request.

Phil Lynch writes: Re. “Media briefs and TV ratings” (yesterday, item 25). “Since Clark and Doyle departed A Current Affair” from Crikey today. Can I assume you mean Clarke and Dawe?

Yesterday’s typos (house pedant Charles Richardson casts an eye over the howlers in the last edition of Crikey): Item 9: “… Commonwealth Territory surrounded by the seat of fairly safe Liberal seat of Gilmore”. One too many “seat of”s in there. Item 13: “… it does not ensure that government’s will have majority support …” – another idiot writer (me) getting an apostrophe wrong.

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