Paul Howes, the head of Australia's biggest blue-collar union, and former NSW Labor premier Bob Carr have called for Australia and the Rudd Government to purge its prejudices and embrace a nuclear power industry.
The two are promoting the potential of nuclear power to generate large quantities of no/low carbon energy at economically competitive prices to address Australia's near—to interim-term climate, energy and industrial needs.
Howes is convinced that without nuclear any credible Australian effort to reduce emissions will result in the export of jobs if not entire industries.
"I've told ministers in the Rudd Government this is my view and the view of my union."
Kevin Rudd insists Australia can meet its carbon emission reduction targets without resorting to nuclear power. However the government has not put forward convincing explanations of what technologies will be used [and to what extent], how energy and grid reliability will be assured, when technologies will be deployed or where the relevant facilities will be located. Recent government reports appear to contradict Kevin Rudd's position—noting the optimistic deployment of all measures currently on the table will at best keep emission levels stable.
Carr's position is that only nuclear power can provide a credible bridge to help secure significant emissions reductions while the country works to develop and deploy sufficiently advanced renewable technologies. Carr notes that most younger Australians do not share the emotional objections to nuclear energy of their elders.
"We all want to get there. But it's decades off and we need a bridge. The best thing the Western world can do to stop the melting of the polar ice caps is to sponsor the production of the most modern nuclear power plants."
Web Editor: Such statements when made by people of stature in the Labor Party but who are not subject to election may well be a prelude to a change in policy of that party. Compare to the email on the HOME page. It may also be that Bob Carr's present job as a consultant to Macquarie Bank at a substancial salary could also be a factor. Macquarie Bank could be a significant investor in Nuclear Power stations.
Australian PM Kevin Rudd will base nuclear waste decision on science.
The Australian Prime Minister has hedged around questioning on the location of Australia's first nuclear waste dump, saying he'll look to independent science for the answer.
There are four sites under consideration for the dump, in Australia's Northern Territory.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says his government will wait for the completion of independent scientific research before making the final decision.
"There's an independent scientific process underway," Mr Rudd said. "We'll respond to the science on these questions. I think it's important to take the politics out of this and to make sure that any advice to government is based on science and one element of that is simply the most geologically stable site."
The Editor: This seems at odds with the following report after the APEC meeting in Sydney. It would appear that PM Rudd has either accepted the USA suggestion or considers himself bound by John Howard's commitment. It may, of course, be a dump for Australia's use only to dispose of our medicinal reactor's waste, but one wonders why this was not said.
Prime Minister John Howard clearly believes there is still domestic value in his close relationship with US President George W Bush, with lots of picture opportunities on the first day of pre-APEC functions, plus two hours of official talks yesterday.
Australia received a gilt-edged invitation to join an exclusive nuclear club proposed by America, that would enrich uranium and lease it to client countries for civil nuclear energy and then take the waste back. The club is some way from becoming reality, but it poses some ticklish questions for Australia.
"If you believe that greenhouse gases are a priority, like a lot of us, if you take the issue seriously like I do and John Howard does, then you should be supportive of nuclear power," Mr Bush said.
Mr Howard announced on Wednesday that Australia had agreed on a nuclear energy action plan with the US, one that gives it entry into the Bush administration's Global Nuclear Energy Program.
"Australia intends to participate in the global nuclear energy partnership and there will be great benefits in terms of access to nuclear technology and non-proliferation," he said. "The United States will support Australian membership in the Generation for International Forum which involves research and development to develop safer and better nuclear reactors."
GNEP proposes that countries that enrich uranium then lease nuclear fuel to other countries, then take back their waste.
Waste management issues
That suggests Australia is about to start enriching its own uranium.
But not so, says Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who warns the US is not convinced we should be doing that, and the Minister is even less keen on taking back other countries' waste. "We won't agree to do that, and we've always made that clear, we're not planning and we've never planned and we've never said we would," he said.
"We've always said we wouldn't, take nuclear waste back to Australia. The plan is at this stage to convene a meeting in Vienna."