I could never quite figure out why the Libs thought that “wedging” the ALP on nuclear power was a smart move. Howard should have seen the “nuclear reactor in your backyard” coming from a country mile.

It hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that Turnbull has been backing away from any prospect of nuclear power at a rate of knots this week. Presumably all the members and candidates in the marginals are similarly on message. Certainly Herbert MP Ted Lindsay has – emphatically denying to ABC Townsville radio that he’d been recently spruiking nuclear power as North Queensland’s future.

It isn’t quite a “Macaca moment” as no eager YouTubers were there to capture Lindsay saying otherwise, but he might have stopped to consider that you can run but you can’t hide from Google cache. Google regularly takes snapshots of pages it indexes, and archives them in its cache. They’re fully searchable, as Jason Wilson from citizen journalism website YouDecide2007 knows well.

Wilson reports:

“Mr. Lindsay’s website did carry a very detailed argument for the merits of nuclear power generation as recently as the 7th of July.”

Crikey readers can view the screenshots here.

As Wilson argues in conclusion:

The point here is that Lindsay made a clear and unambiguous defence of nuclear power as an option only a few short months ago, and has now made that defence “disappear” on his official website.

If Australia is considering the introduction of nuclear power – and it may well be that it’s a reasonable option – it should be on the table as an issue for debate in this election campaign. Moves like Lindsay’s might reinforce the impression that the Government has expediently swept nuclear power under the carpet for the campaign season.

If we were being uncharitable, we might even wonder what light this information casts on his denials about that conversation in which Colbran alleges that he supported the adoption of nuclear power in the region.

Indeed. Lindsay has a long history of being rather loose with his lips. Though he holds Herbert with what is ostensibly a comfortable margin of 6.2%, he’s had some close scrapes in the past. Much of his margin comes to him courtesy of a solid swing at the 2004 election, where Latham stance on Iraq wouldn’t have gone down a treat with the defence heavy electorate.

Lindsay is in a tight race again, running against a Labor candidate, self-made millionaire George Colbran, who couldn’t be further from the “union boss” stereotype and who has a background in small business many Libs would envy.

Lindsay is presumably doing a bit of tidying up of loose negative ends on his website, but his excitable advocacy of nuclear power might be harder than he thinks to wipe away.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey