According to an ALP list doing the rounds, one in four Coalition MPs are telling voters in their electorates that they’re opposed to nuclear power, which pretty much directly contradicts government policy to develop a nuclear industry in Australia.
The Herald Sun reports today that “cabinet ministers who have tried to scotch nuclear stories running in their electorates include Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mal Brough (“never a nuclear reactor on Bribie Island”), Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran (“a distant prospect”), and Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews (“not much room”).”
According to the ALP list, 23 out of 87 Coalition MPs have spoken out against nuclear reactors in their electorates.
Listen here to Liberal Member for Indi Sophie Mirabella on ABC regional radio when pushed on the nuclear issue:
Mirabella: …the reason why it hasn’t been much of an issue discussed is because it’s not much of a current immediate issue that’s why.
Host: Not very popular though possibly, would that be another reason…
Mirabella: Um … no, because … it would be totally irresponsible for a government to ban discussion on future energy possibilities and that’s all it is … There are no proposals … to build nuclear power stations in Australia and it’s up to business at a later stage to assess whether nuclear power can compete against other energies and in any case the government has said down the track if business wants to propose such a thing it would be subject to a full array of environmental health, safety and other approvals and would be subeject to a binding local community plebiscite.
Cast your mind back eons ago to April 26th of this year. Here’s a press release from the Prime Minister:
Uranium Mining and Nuclear Energy: A Way Forward for Australia
… Nuclear energy is a fact of life and a key source of clean energy in 30 countries across Europe, Asia and North America.
Nuclear energy already supplies 15 per cent of the world’s electricity and is set to grow further.
I am announcing today a new strategy for the future development of uranium mining and nuclear power in Australia.
The Government will implement this strategy to increase uranium exports and to prepare for a possible expansion of the nuclear industry in Australia.
The strategy will involve a number of actions that can be taken immediately, including:
– removing unnecessary constraints impeding the expansion of uranium mining, such as overlapping and cumbersome regulations relating to the mining and transport of uranium ore;
– making a firm commitment to Australia’s participation in the Generation IV advanced nuclear reactor research programme.
My Government will also develop four major work plans mapping out a way forward for:
(i) an appropriate nuclear energy regulatory regime – including those to govern any future potential nuclear energy facilities in Australia;
(ii) skills and technical training to address any identified gaps and needs to support a possible expanded nuclear energy industry;
(iii) enhanced research and development; and
(iv) communication strategies so that all Australians and other stakeholders can clearly understand what needs to be done and why.
Relevant Ministers and their Departments are to commence this work immediately and to report to Cabinet by around September this year;
The work plans are to be implemented in 2008.
The Government’s next step will be to repeal Commonwealth legislation prohibiting nuclear activities, including the relevant provisions of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This will be addressed soon.
While many Liberal MPs (including Malcolm Turnbull) are trying to dust off the nuclear fallout of these kinds of statements, someone forgot to tell the Young Liberals :