I do love Janet Albrechtsen’s style. She cuts right to the chase and in her incisive piece from today’s Oz she points out that there is much to be gained for Gillard’s leadership if she makes a stand for nuclear energy development in this country. I like her suggestion that by doing so Gillard can consign the Greens to the same sort of irrelevance that is now enjoyed by One Nation.
Plenty of sensible Labor minds recognise the potential of nuclear energy for base load 24/7 power and the limits of wind and solar energy. The facts are on the table. As Ziggy Switkowski, chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, has pointed out, this is a 55-year-old industry. Thirty-one countries already use nuclear power. Fuel and spent rods have been moved across the world without incident. Britain will increase its nuclear power to 30 per cent by the 2030s. France has increased its nuclear power to 80 per cent of energy needs over 50 years. US President Barack Obama has endorsed nuclear power. Japan, the size of Victoria, with 127 million people, has 55 reactors. Germany, the same size as NSW, also has accommodated nuclear reactors. The Italians are doing the same. China, with electricity demand growing by 12 per cent each year, has 24 nuclear reactors under construction and more in the planning. Both India and China, where this debate ultimately will be decided, are projected to be the biggest users of nuclear power by 2050.
And Australia? With 40 per cent of the world’s uranium resources, the present political cowardice makes no sense. As new Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg said in his recent maiden address, “It is a curious moral, economic and environmental position that we find ourselves in where we are prepared to supply uranium but not use it.” In February, Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes described nuclear power as a “political reality”. We will, he said, have that debate in the future.
The future is now. Rather than allowing gay marriage to dominate the next ALP national conference, modern Labor must redefine its relationship with the Greens. And that, says the Labor member, can happen only if the left faction can “summon the fortitude to change the game”. “History is tapping you on the shoulder,” Sawyer told Combet.
I’m a conservative these days but there is still part of me that cares about the fate of the ALP even if it is only because I think the country is better served by that party dominating the cross benches from a good coalition government than the Loopy Greens being anywhere near the parliament.