Nuclear trade with India:

Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth and author of a detailed briefing paper on uranium sales to India, writes: Re. “Essential: no to uranium exports to India, yes to mining tax” (yesterday, item 2). Nuclear trade with India — a weapons state that refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — has clearly escalated the nuclear arms race in south Asia since the US-India deal was concluded in 2008. To give just one example of the corrosive effects on the non-proliferation regime, the ink wasn’t dry on the US-India nuclear deal before China started pursuing plans to supply more reactors to Pakistan — another weapons state outside the NPT. Australian uranium sales to India will make a bad situation still worse.

Issues worthy of serious media coverage, you’d think. Wrong. Ron Walker — a former Australian diplomat with 37 years’ experience, and former chair of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — said in a Lowy Institute article last Friday: “I am horrified that the media have not explained the enormity of this proposal. Perhaps even the public service has been so degraded, marginalised and cowed that the Prime Minister has not been told of the far-reaching consequences.”

That’s one of the many failings of the media coverage — the failure to give any coverage to Walker’s views on the dangers and hypocrisy of uranium sales to India. Surely the views of an ex-IAEA chief — an Aussie to boot — are newsworthy. Not many journalists would stumble across an article on the Lowy Institute website so Friends of the Earth put out a media release alerting journalists to Walker’s piece. Silence.

Senior Fairfax journalists crank out several thousand words about the internal ALP machinations regarding uranium sales to India while remaining silent on the proliferation issues.

The Murdoch press … the less said the better, and we’ve all got an excuse to ignore The Australian now it’s behind a paywall.

Ian Macfarlane appears on ABC TV’s Insiders and claims that Australia’s nuclear safeguards are the strictest  in the world. The assembled journalists need only have asked him to elaborate and they would have had a Rick-Perry-esque moment of mumbling and fumbling as Macfarlane attempted to justify that Big Fat Lie. They let it go unchallenged.

An ABC TV news anchor asserts that Australia strict safeguards will apply to any uranium exported to India. In fact, safeguards will be tokenistic at best. The evidence for that is in my opinion piece — that none of the papers seem interested in running.

Many media outlets run an AAP piece that asserts that uranium sales to India could add up to $1.7 billion in annual exports. How so when the value of India’s entire uranium demand is about $0.09 billion?!

There are plenty of government and industry lies to be challenged. Plenty of talent like Ron Walker. Loads of relevant WikiLeaks cables. Just no journalists doing the work. Meanwhile the South Asian nuclear arms race escalates and the non-proliferation regime continues to fall apart.

Afghanistan:

John Richardson writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. Crikey may well ask why our “two desperately populist major parties” are ignoring public opinion on our commitment to Afghanistan.

Whilst I’m equally baffled and disgusted, perhaps it’s because our political masters long ago worked out that public opinion in Australia really isn’t that important when considered against the needs and wants of our American cousins along the Potomac.

Doubtless Mark Arbib could confirm the veracity of my thesis, which could also help explain the basis of the obvious affection mutually displayed by POTUS and our Prime Minister.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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