Just to remind ourselves, it was at the scrag end of February this year when an arrangement between Ron Walker, Hugh Morgan and Robert Champion de Crespigny came to light, a speculative venture named Australian Nuclear Energy, ”registered on June 1 last year,” The Age reported at the time, ”only days before Mr Howard announced an expert taskforce to examine nuclear power.”
Armed with the favorable findings of that Ziggy Zwitkowski study, John Howard went on to talk up the prospects of an Australian nuclear power industry through much of the year. It would be an answer to our carbon emissions, a key to reducing Australia’s contribution to global warming. We might have as many as 25 reactors in Australia, he said, as recently as September 28. He would legislate for their construction if a Liberal government was returned in next month’s election.
And then he stopped. Those 25 reactors would have to be built somewhere – the potential locations were pretty easy to predict – 25 little bombshells that the Liberal election campaign could probably do without. As it happens the mentions Mr Howard made of nuclear power on September 28 were his last. The words have never been uttered by the PM since. The whole business was more or less forgotten until Kevin Rudd mentioned it during Sunday night’s debate. Looks like Messrs Walker, Morgan and Champion de Crespigny might have done their dough.