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Rudd rejects Labor nuclear push

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Rudd rejects Labor nuclear push

THE Rudd Government has flatly rejected calls from an influential unionist and the former Labor premier Bob Carr to embrace a nuclear power industry as it grapples with how to cut carbon emissions.

Kevin Rudd told ABC radio this morning the nuclear option was not needed.

And in a short media conference, Treasurer Wayne Swan, when asked about the renewed nuclear push answed: “No, a capital N-O.”

The issue was reignited after The Australian reported this morning that Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes and Mr Carr had called on the Government to purge its prejudices and embrace a nuclear power industry.

Their advocacy came at the annual Australian-American Leadership Dialogue in Washington after a debate on climate change.

“If we are going to be a green Labor Government, then we have to look at nuclear,” Mr Howes told The Australian.

“If we don’t start today, we are going to put ourselves in a very precarious position in 10, 15 or 20 years time.”

“I’ve told ministers in the Rudd Government this is my view and the view of my union. I can’t tell you how concerned I am about this. It’s the greatest challenge the union movement has faced since trade liberalisation in the 1980s, if not greater.

“The only option for us, in my view, is nuclear. If we are going to reduce our carbon output and still want to have heavy industry then we have to look at renewable and new sources of energy – and that means nuclear.”

Mr Carr described nuclear power as the critical bridge between the carbon era and energy from renewable sources.

“There is no other bridging technology to get us from this catastrophic burning of coal and oil into the era of cheap and infinite renewable power,” the former NSW Labor premier said.

“We all want to get there. But it’s decades off and we need a bridge. The best the Western world can do to stop the melting of the polar icecaps is to sponsor the production of the most modern nuclear power plants.”

But the Prime Minister said today: “We believe that we have a full range of energy options available to Australia beyond nuclear through which we can respond to the climate change challenge, and we’re confident we can do that,” he said.

Mr Rudd also reiterated that the coal industry must remain part of a long-term solution and that clean coal technologies must be further developed, but he was optimistic about its future.

“What the nation needs to set for itself and the world is a goal to bring about the commercial application and scale of clean-coal technologies,” he said.

The climate change issue will continue to dominate the political agenda over the next week, with the Government’s climate change expert Ross Garnaut to release his interim report next Friday.

A Government green paper is to follow.

As the Government moved to dismiss the nuclear option, Mr Howes continued his push.

“In the UK, there’s going to be the expansion of nuclear facilities there,” he told Fairfax radio today.

“France now has 80 per cent of its power generated from nuclear, all as short solutions, that is 20 to 50 year solutions until other technologies, such as fusion and hot rock, … are developed and are widely available as baseload power.”

Nuclear power would always be a sensitive issue, he said.

“But we have 40 per cent of the world’s uranium in Australia.

“Labor has overturned the three mines policy and I think it’s now a time for another healthy, sensible and rational debate about this issue without falling back to alarmist sentiments.”

Rudd’s and Labor’s position on nuclear power is based completely on ideology and dogma, in the absence of any evidence. What is their scientifically, factually motivated argument against nuclear energy?

If we “have a full range of energy options available to Australia beyond nuclear through which we can respond to the climate change challenge” then what the hell are they, actually?

Rudd can either put up or shut up. Meanwhile, no impact is being made in the use of coal at all.

So, what are these magical options that Rudd has up his sleeve? How mature are the technologies? How much energy do they generate, how easily can they be scaled up, how much do they cost when scaled up to replace coal plants, and how much carbon dioxide and other forms of pollution do they emit – and why aren’t we using them to replace coal fired power stations right now, without the bullshit?

If there’s some magical thing that Rudd is sitting on that is superior to nuclear energy – which there isn’t – then let’s see it. I’m calling him out on it, right now. Since no superior option exists for replacing coal-fired power stations, nuclear energy is what is needed.

Even the AWU realises that burning coal in this way is completely unsustainable – why does the Rudd government insist on remaining committed to coal?

If we check out The Australian’s poll we see – once again – that a clear majority of Australians think the same way.

Written by Luke Weston

June 27, 2008 at 11:37 am

3 Responses

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  1. Amen brother.


    June 28, 2008 at 11:12 am

  2. What if we took solid evidence based on the health cost of power and taxed pollution by the emitted ton. Then allowed consumers to purchase the power from whom they wished. Nuke plants would beat out coal, and when renewable was online, renewable would underbid uranium. Market forces and fair taxes make the world a better place.

    And besides, isn’t “clean coal” an oxymoron?


    June 29, 2008 at 2:33 am

  3. Absolutely, Truthwalker, I agree.

    Let’s have a system whereby there is a monetary price put on the pollution from coal and fossil fuels – and that’s not just carbon dioxide emissions, but all the other types of environmentally damaging and health damaging pollution emitted from coal power – and we let the free market decide what energy systems they want to use. As well, sure, let energy customers choose if they want to pay for wind energy, or whatever, kind of as with existing “green energy” schemes, or let them choose 100% nuclear energy as well, if they want.

    But for this to work, fairly, it would mean removing unfair and arbitrary laws that restrict or prohibit the development of nuclear power, and allowing it to compete in the market.

    Luke Weston

    June 29, 2008 at 2:38 am

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