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Aug 21, 2009

Nuclear power and relations with China

Crikey readers weigh in on nuclear power, relations with China and the politics between the Greens and the Nationals.

Nuclear power:

AWU National Secretary Paul Howes writes: Re. “Paul Howes’ u-propaganda is radioactive” (Wednesday, item 4). Friends of the Earth spokesman Dr Jim Green in Crikey this week repeatedly claimed I have lied about the benefits of a domestic nuclear power industry and questioned my qualifications for speaking out on this subject.

Whilst it is true that I left school in Year 9, unlike Dr Jim I do believe working people and their representatives have a right to speak out on matters of public importance and it shouldn’t be left solely in the hands of the academic elite.

Dr Jim has an ultra leftist belief system that does not allow him to change his position on issues, despite the world manifestly changing around him.

This is despite the urgent need to address climate change. Despite the need for the world to grow its energy resources to secure rising standards of living. Despite the fact that the UK, Sweden, Italy and many other countries have said in the last 18 months that they are or want to be nuclear powered countries.

Unlike JM Keynes, people like Dr Jim don’t change their minds when new facts change the circumstances. That’s ideology. Here are some facts for Dr Jim:

  • Just about every scenario, forecast and projection of future world electricity demand foresees an increase in demand for nuclear power, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
  • Demand for electricity will continue to grow in response to world economic growth, energy security concerns and climate change challenges.
  • The world will need to make use of all its energy resources — clean coal, oil and gas, renewables, nuclear.

To quote Ivo De Boer, Secretary of the IPCC; “I have never seen a credible scenario for reducing emissions that did not include nuclear energy”.

Donald Dowell writes: Re. “Rundle: Who ate all the yellowcake?” (Wednesday, item 12). “As if aviation were to stop at the biplane” … Guy Rundle has nailed it on the pathetic efforts made so far to make the jump to renewable energy, probably solar, as our predominate energy source. The world would need a massive investment in heavy duty research and development to bring it comfortably below fossil fuel in costs and availability. Rebates on solar roof panels that are hardly more advanced than they were in the mid-seventies, that’s not going to do it. What an economist’s solution, but then they aren’t really into technology.

Just a look at some of the incredible advances in military technology by the US during the Cold War, such as being able to fire Polaris missiles under water from a nuclear sub, a feat that was widely thought impossible by most in military science, should show the way. Advances such as these required R & D efforts amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars in today’s terms, but they were achieved over and over again .

Imagine if they had of gone down this road back in 1975 after the first Oil Crisis, we might be driving fast, powerful electric cars sourced from efficient solar power stations out in the deserts. The nuclear option is brought in as just a wedge, usually by the sceptics, who should stick to their more honest, if deluded belief, that doubling, tripling the CO2 content in the atmosphere is OK and will only help the plants grow.

Australian Food and Grocery Council:

Australian Food and Grocery Council Chief Executive Kate Carnell writes: Re. “Sucking the RENT out of RET” (yesterday, item 1). AFGC heavily disputes several claims made in the article. Firstly, saying that the “food processing industry” is a fiction and agglomeration of otherwise unrelated food, drink and even pharmaceutical producers and manufacturers is wrong. Australia’s food processing sector is far from a fiction — it’s the largest manufacturing sector in Australia — ask any one of the 200,000 odd people it employs.

AFGC does not represent not retailers, supermarkets or the quick service restaurant industry — we represent food and grocery companies making food and beverages for Australians to consume. We supply to the retailers. To say that AFGC waited until after the CPRS bill was defeated to raise the issue is simply a case of being ill informed. AFGC provided a submission in 2008 that stated the food and grocery industry would incur costs and that it would be likely that costs would have to be passed on to the consumer and have repeated these statements in numerous other large submissions, media statements and television appearances.

Finally, to say that AFGC couldn’t produce figures on price hikes is incorrect. Over the past six months, the food and grocery industry has sourced company-based information on the impacts of the emissions trading scheme which has indicated that there will be an increase in the costs of manufacturing! which will result about a 5 per cent increase on Australian made food and grocery products.

So far, the Government has produced no detailed information on what the ETS will mean for the average family in terms of food and grocery prices — they have relied on the CPI basket of goods — I call on them to clearly spell out these costs on everyday items.

It defies logic that a minimum of a 20 per cent increase in electricity for a manufacturer would not significantly increase the cost of production!


Colin Jacobs in Shanghai writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. I think Crikey did itself a disservice yesterday with the lead-in to the daily email about China. The recent misunderstandings, propaganda and point-scoring are legitimate and interesting topics for discussion. However, the vague and inflammatory reference to “atrocities” committed in “occupied East Turkestan” — a place whose name only exists in the context of a ridiculously unrealistic separatist movement — play right into the accusations of Sinophobia levelled at us by the Chinese.

From a Chinese point of view, that sentence boils down an enormously complicated issue spanning thousands of years into a simple assertion that China is evil. It’s at the level of the silliest propaganda penned by the cadres at China Daily.

It’s also wrong to suggest that we must choose between ignoring China’s “tantrum” and “allowing Beijing to dictate Australia’s visa policies” and have control over our commerce. Of course there is a middle road where we stand our ground against China’s bullying while acknowledging the sensitivity of the issues in question.

Surely we have the sophistication to handle a delicate relationship sensitively, and even give such a valued trading partner a little face? If so, when we do take a stand on human rights or our own sovereignty, it will be harder to depict such as simple China-bashing.

Stephen Wong writes: It seems to me that Rebiya Kadeer, by her response “China needs Australia more than you need it”, was trying to say that Australia should uphold its human rights responsibilities and cease trading with China, since China is not “economically critical” to us. Crikey is completely oblivious to this implication.

It went on to proudly proclaim that “producing economic results” is more important than selling resources to a “tantrum” throwing infantile nation (one with nuclear weapons) that continues to commit “atrocities in occupied East Turkestan”. We should not be surprised by this standard of behaviour, after all, Australia sold wheat and paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein, the dictator who murdered thousands of his own countrymen.

David Lenihan writes: This is a concept I have believed in for years and am gratified to see your comments and those of Rebiya Kadeer. In particular my interest has been more in regard  to China and its support and propping up of the illegal, despots who make up the Generals and their cohorts who rule Burma.

I have long contended the sanctions against that regime, while better than doing nothing, at the end of the day does nothing to stop the murders, the sham trials, the cruel detentions with associated torture and the poverty endured by the Burmese people. China will continue to ignore the demands of the civilised world to stop supporting the Burmese Generals until the world turns the tables on it and threatens major trade sanctions.

It is true many countries buy millions upon millions of dollars of goods manufactured in and supplied by China. The question these countries, who apart from Russia and China, do not support the murderers ruling Burma must ask themselves, should sanctions be imposed on China? Will this cause hardship and change our way of life? Will the world have to go without clothes on our bodies, shoes on our feet, food in our bellies? Will manufacturing, construction, education fall down around us? Will we end up living in 3rd world conditions?

Of course the answer is no to all. So the one big question to be answered is, do the Governments and big business of the democratic world have the guts to tell the Chinese Government, stop supporting the Generals and allow the rightfully elected leader of her people be released from detention and rule, as her people have demanded legally at the ballot box?

Niall Clugston writes: I think it’s a bit rich for your editorial to airily refer to “China’s continuing atrocities in occupied East Turkestan”. You overlook the recent bombings and mob violence against ethnic Chinese and posit an “occupation” of the region which would be hard to find in any history book.

Yes, there are serious political problems in “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region”, and indeed all of China, but where would you rather be, there or in American-occupied Iraq or Afghanistan?

Nats and Greens:

Peter Lloyd writes: Re. “Rundle: are Bill Heffernan and Bob Brown the same person?” (yesterday, item 3). Guy Rundle makes the mistake of thinking that because the Nationals and some rural-based Liberals are now suggesting policies the Greens have espoused for years, that this actually means the two camps have come closer together, or that a detente is possible. Tasmania is a microcosm of the wider scene, and the main obstacle to co-operation is the sheer hatred most major party figures display toward the Greens.

The image of the Greens presented ad nauseam is extreme and effective, but the endless repetition of the “poofter hippie greenie” caricature should not lead to abandoning positions on abortion and euthanasia that simply reflect the views of a vast majority of Australians. These views are not what makes the Greens unpalatable to those who’d happily take guidance from lunar-right Christian cults, and such policies must be presented as Trojan horses for a neo-Nazi dystopia. Only by such constant lies can the Greens be combated — who could forget the Adelaide Advertiser’s front page two days before the 2004 election screaming that a vote for the Greens was a vote for giving kids free heroin?

Rather than selling out their social justice credentials togain alliance with conservatives out to protect their investment, perhaps those conservatives need to learn that if the Greens were right on the limits of exploiting nature, they could be right on the rights of people with dark skin and different to ‘normal’ bedroom habits. These voters might even realise their baseless fears have been exploited while their wealth has been transferred to urban shareholders and market manipulators.

Swine Flu:

Peter Collignon writes: Re. “No more deadly than your average non-swine flu” (yesterday, item 13). Due to an error in my calculations, my article yesterday over-estimated the risk of swine flu to pregnant women. The relevant par should have read:

One group with a disproportionate risk are pregnant women. Their relatively frequent and serious complications have been a surprising element of this influenza outbreak. In the US their rate of hospital admissions is about four times higher than the general population and eight times higher than for other women of their age.

Rudd money:

Michael Bailey writes: Re. “Rudd’s stimulus has nothing to do with the economy” (Wednesday, item 2). Why did Crikey choose to publish this ideological dribble from the IPA? To have the very same people who advocated the disastrous policies of unfettered markets and endless deregulation to now turn around and criticise the corrective measures the government has employed to in an effort to ameliorate the damage their prescriptions have inflicted upon us all is quite galling to say the least.

I know it must be quite offensive to their neo-liberal sensibilities that supposedly outdated Keynesian measures have seemingly averted a much more severe economic downturn but the fact they’re suffering from bruised intellectual egos is certainly no reason to provide them with a bully pulpit.

John Kotsopoulos writes: “Of course the government will claim that it was their policies that have resulted in the Australian economy doing so well,” writes Sinclair Davidson. Yes, but as The Age’s Tim Colebatch pointed out yesterday the IMF, OECD, Treasury, the Reserve Bank and all but coalition loyalists among professional economists have declared the stimulus spending both necessary and affordable.

Angela Armitage writes: Can’t Crikey leave the views of the Institute of Public Affairs to The Australian and the other News Ltd publications which dominate the market? Those of us wanting a respite and a more balanced point of view subscribe to Crikey.

Will the real Gilly Hicks please stand up:

Ruth Moloney in Los Angeles writes: I was wandering around a shopping mall near my office in Glendale, California yesterday and ran into this store called Gilly Hicks, Sydney, est 1932. Being a Sydneysider most of my life I was intrigued, as I’d never heard of Gilly Hicks. It sells women’s intimates and perfumes with names like Kirawee, La Perouse, Tamarama etc.

The store was very dark inside, with lots of loud music. Being a buyer by trade I went straight to the bargain bin and got some travel sized hand cream and went to pay. I said to the girl I was from Sydney and I’d never heard of Gilly Hicks. She seemed a bit embarrassed, asked if there was anything I needed and I said just a flashlight since it was nightclub dark and disco loud. Eventually she fessed up and said it was an offshoot of Abercrombie and Fitch, which is a struggling US retail clothing chain.

Anyway, I’m guessing it’s their latest “lifestyle store” and that there is in fact no Gilly Hicks behind all this, although I’m willing to be proven wrong. It sounds like a genuine Australian name, I know several Gillys back home. However, it’s probably all the product of a bunch of marketing people and focus groups, but I’m pencilling it in as about as Australian as the Outback Steakhouse food chain.

Check out the website, it’s basically soft core p-rn — you’ll need a flashlight to see it as well.

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4 thoughts on “Nuclear power and relations with China

  1. Jim Green

    AWU secretary Paul Howes takes me to task for pointing out that many of his statements to the Sydney Institute about uranium mining and nuclear power were demonstrably false (letter, Crikey, 21/8).

    But Howes does not challenge a single point of fact in my original Crikey piece ( Instead he offers ridiculous ad hominen and straw man attacks.

    Howes claims that I accused him of repeatedly lying. I did no such thing. I said he appears to know next to nothing about uranium mining and nuclear power and provided considerable evidence in support of that view – evidence which Howes does not challenge.

    Howes says that, unlike me, he believes “working people and their representatives have a right to speak out on matters of public importance”. Needless to say, I never suggested otherwise.

    Howes falsely claims that ‘Just about every scenario, forecast and projection of future world electricity demand foresees an increase in demand for nuclear power’. But my original Crikey piece provided a web-link to many reports which map out clean energy futures without recourse to nuclear power. (

    Howes accuses me of having an ‘ultra leftist belief system’. This contrasts with Howes – he gave up social justice and environmental activism to become, in his words, a “committed democrat”. Which led him naturally to the right-wing of the NSW Labor/labour machine!

    Jim Green
    Friends of the Earth

  2. stephen martin

    “•Demand for electricity will continue to grow in response to world economic growth, energy security concerns and climate change challenges.” –
    The article referenced below in Scientific American is of interest as far as the electricity supply needed to power the widespread adoption of electric cars.

  3. Mark Duffett

    Rack off, Michael Bailey and Angela Armitage. I’m starting to get heartily sick of these types of responses that oh-so-predictably greet every Crikey contribution that occasionally comes from a vaguely right of centre source. No engagement with the points made, just a la-la-la-la-I’m-not-listening call for the dissenting voice to be silenced. I’m particularly annoyed by the school of thought that says the point of Crikey is to be some sort of leftist counterweight to The Australian. I rarely read The Australian. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect overall balance from Crikey in its own right, without reference to any other publication.

  4. Harvey Tarvydas

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas writes:

    “Of course the government will claim that it was their policies that have resulted in the Australian economy doing so well,” writes Sinclair Davidson.

    The outright abuse of intellectual process this thinking represents only influences intellectual lightweights or intellectual deficient liberal supporters.

    The accepted honest intellectual process to reveal the truth is to be engaged before and after thus enabling honest claims to the true meaning.

    The dishonest will claim after an event that a cause and effect claim is not true simply because it’s convenient .

    If one (the Rudd Govt) set up to take an action to effect the future to become A (a desirable positive outcome) and declares that expected outcome (A) will occur as a result of the action, with fingers crossed, and avoid outcome B, at a time when everyone (both those with one and those opposed to one) are clearly of a mind that the only future to be contemplated is the opposite to A, ie B a future that is an extremely negative and an undesirable outcome AND then the action indeed produces A it becomes an extremely devious and intellectually dishonest claim to make that “of course the (Rudd) Govt would claim they affected the future to become A.

    Are there any educated, intellegently capable people left.