One of the reasons I find it hard to believe the assertions of nuclear power spruikers like John Howard is their use of climate change as the justification for going down the nuclear, when they have spent a decade ignoring the risk of climate change and in many cases working hard to prevent progress on the issue.
However, I don’t dispute that some people now suggesting nuclear power must be considered are genuine, and I think it is important that every effort be made to ensure public debate is factually accurate. As part of announcing the Coalition’s push for adopting nuclear power, Mr Howard has stepped things up another notch, stating that nuclear power must be part of the solution to climate change.
Presumably this sort of extremist approach is another attempt by the government to create a false divide, trying to place those who oppose nuclear power on the opposite side to those who are “serious about addressing climate change in a practical way that does not strangle the Australian economy”. Lame, really.
Coalition Industry Minister, Ian MacFarlane has said “There will be no movement towards the establishment of a power station in Australia until Australia has debated where nuclear energy fits in its low emission future.”
But Mr Howard also announced today that “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.”
The current prohibitions on nuclear activity were put into law by the Democrats in 1999 as part of putting the EPBC Act in place. I had carriage of this legislation when it was passed by the Senate.
It seems the government want to change the law before Australia has the debate – or even has the election. It shows again that the Senate result will matter at the next election. Even if the government rushes through law changes soon, they will need a nuclear friendly Senate after the election is they hope to pass the laws to progress their nuclear agenda.
ELSEWHERE: Following are some links to commentary on the nuclear issue on Australian blogs:
- Ed at Nuclear Australia
- John Quiggin
- Core Economics
- and Robert Merkel takes a look at solar thermal energy
UPDATE: Kevin Rudd’s response to John Howard’s announcement isn’t much better than Howard’s response to Rudd – saying “what Mr Howard is doing with his 25 nuclear reactor programs is …. hauling up the white flag on Australia’s future coal exports.” Bizarre.
And finally, Larvatus Prodeo publishes The Nuclear Thread we Had to Have.