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Wedging the Greens

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.

Janet Albrechtsen

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.

Cheers Comrades



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Greg Naylor, Iain Hall. Iain Hall said: Wedging the Greens : http://wp.me/p1ZH5-2ss […]

  2. Ray Dixon says:

    Going nuclear is a huge step, Iain, and any government that proposes it will face a huge backlash and may be signing its own death warrant. It could have the opposite effect to what Albrechtsen suggests and see Greens support swell exponentially.

    The anti-nuclear power movements of the 80s had massive support and Garrett nearly became a Senator for the NDA over that very issue. How much support do you reckon the Greens would muster this time by simply opposing such a move? It could backfire on Gillard big time.

    I dunno about nuclear power despite all the obvious benefits and the widespread use of it overseas. The problem is that no one wants a reactor ‘in their backyard’ and who could blame them? Nuclear power is the equivalent of ‘swatting a fly with a baseball bat’ and, is just ‘a bridge too far’ in my opinion (at this stage).

    Given our existing resources of fossil fuels, which have served us very well and which will last for decaes yet, maybe we shouldn’t be in *such* a hurry to replace them anyway.

    Four years to close down the brown coal fored Hazelwood plant in Victoria is a ridiculously short period and there is no way we’ll have alternatives in place to replace it within that time frame – even if we started to build them now and even if they were nuclear.

    I think we need to keep looking at cleaner alternatives and put more money into research of increasing their base-load capacity instead of pouring $billions into nuclear.

    In the meantime I suggest we revisit the Hazelwood issue and keep it going for another 10 years. I don’t think it’ll make much difference to ‘the end of the world’.

  3. Iain Hall says:

    I can’t see Australia going nuclear any time soon either But I do think that Janet is right that Labor has to stop seeing the Greens as as a fellow traveller which is better than the coalition. If they have half a brain the will see that the only way to keep them off the parliamentary benches is to put them last on all how to vote cards.

    Four years to close down the brown coal fored Hazelwood plant in Victoria is a ridiculously short period and there is no way we’ll have alternatives in place to replace it within that time frame – even if we started to build them now and even if they were nuclear.

    I will trust that you are more familiar with the Victorian situation than me But I don’t see any alternative on the horizon to the use of coal to generate base load power. because there is no way that you can generate enough energy from solar or wind to do that .

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