October 21, 2008 § 2 Comments
In a move that was thankfully quickly quashed by newly-elected WA premier Colin Barnett, his National Party colleague Brendon Grylls demonstrated support for a nuclear waste dump.
This has also been the case with the NSW national party as outlined in the recent Newsletter by ARIUS (Association for Regional and International Underground Storage page 6 July 2008).
An extract from this newsletter is reprinted below.
“Following what appeared to be the dawn of an enlightened national debate on how it wants to see its role in the global nuclear fuel cycle, the new government of the worldís second largest supplier of uranium appears ready to step back into the darkness and firmly close the doors.
Last September, the previous government signed Australia up to the GNEP agreement (as well as the Generation IV International Forum). For a country to be part of GNEP implies that it has an interest in its place in the global fuel cycle (see article on GNEP onthis page). As has been frequently stated by many international and domestic commentators (including a past Prime Minister), Australia is one of the very few countries in the world that would be conferred the international trust to operate a full suite of fuel cycle facilities for use by other countries to the considerable economic and political advantage of the nation. The new government of Kevin Rudd is now looking again at the issue of nuclear. On being challenged that involvement in GNEP might mean consideration of hosting an international repository, Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, simultaneously capped both ends of the fuel cycle by saying that the Rudd government “….categorically rules out accepting any waste from any other country and categorically rules out any enrichment programme in Australia”. Asked whether Australia would continue to be part of GNEP, he firmly stated that he was “not sure”.
Meanwhile, a June meeting in Sydney of Australian National party members from New South Wales seems rather to have shocked itself and other party members by voting in favour of a motion to the effect that they supported research into the development of a nuclear power industry and a commercial international nuclear waste facility in Australia. When the motion reached the NSW parliament, three days later, a vote was taken that, among other things, condemned this policy and called upon the Liberal party either to over-rule or endorse their “junior partner”. The vote was in favour. The leader of the NSW Nationals meanwhile distanced himself from his party members and said that the result of the original vote was “not binding”. He also said that, what Australian politicians continue to refer to as a nuclear waste dump, is “….electorally unpalatable …the same as for nuclear power stations”.
In 2006, the previous Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard had called for a full-blooded debate on nuclear energy. It does not seem that this debate is being approached in a responsible manner by most politicians.”
So the precedent is there for members of the National Party in Australia to be supportive of nuclear waste disposal in Australia. We need to keep a closer eye on them in the future and to ask them about this issue prior to state and federal elections.