New mines and new reactors?
Today the ALP over-turned its 'no new mines' policy taking away the federal prohibition on uranium mining that has stood since 1977. Meanwhile Prime Minister John Howard has laid out his nuclear plans for Autralia exposing the intent upon the promotion of nuclear power as a clean and green solution to climate change.
On the morning of the day the ALP was set to review it's 30 year 'no new mines' policy the morning paper wasn't occupied with uranium. Instead, John Howard co opted the headlines announcing his plans for the expansion of the nuclear industry in Australia. He's promised expansion of uranium mining, a PR campaign to sell us on the idea of nuclear power, nuclear research and the repeal of legislation prohibiting nuclear activities. Meanwhile the ALP has scrapped it's ban on further uranium mining. These events will shape the challenges to anti-nuclear campaigns in the coming months.
In his speech to the Victorian Liberal Party conference today John Howard confirmed he would unveil his plans for developing an Australian nuclear power industry. In his address Howard played the climate change card again.
"If we're fair dinkum about this climate change debate we have to open our minds to the use of nuclear power," Mr Howard told the gathering.
In order to open our minds to nuclear power the Howard promised an 'information campaign' (SMH, 28/04/07) to tell the nation what needs to be done and why. It seems the anti-nuclear movement will soon have a new cycle of PR to ride against.
Scarily, it seems that this plan is very close to fruition. Howard called on his ministers to begin this campaign immediately and report back to Canberra in September..
Howard's work plans are to be implemented in 2008. Howard said.
"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,'' he said (SMH 28/05/07).
At the other end of the nuclear fuel chain, the Labor party has played it's part to expand the nuclear industry in Australia. This afternoon at the ALP national conference, the ALP did not reaffirm it's ban on further uranium mining. The vote to scrap the policay was lost 190 to 205.
The loss of this policy potentially means to an open slather on uranium mining in Australia. The good news? State control over land use remains regardless of this decision. Activists will have a 2 fold challenge in the campaign. 1. inspire people to fight the nuclear industry at the mines proposed in their state and 2. expose nuclear power as the white elephant that it is.
It's a very busy time on the nuclear front. Today we have seen in full view the agendas on both sides of politics and it's not pretty. It looks like no holds will be barred from now on. Uranium is the asbestos of the 21st century and now is a crucial time to show this to the wider community.