A trilogy of Ron Walker, Hugh Morgan and Robert Champion de Crespigny appear to have formed the Australian Nuclear Energy Pty Ltd as a private company established to examine potential commercial responses to future energy needs.
Their company ANE has put out a short statement denying that any plans for power plants were under way. "The Australian community will ultimately decide the best way to provide sustainable energy for our country," it said. Mr Walker is chairman of Fairfax Media, publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald and ex-federal treasurer of the Liberal Party.
Prime Minister John Howard has admitted knowing that a Liberal powerbroker was setting up a nuclear energy company around the same time he announced his review of uranium mining processing. The Prime Minister admitted in parliament (27-2-07) that he had had conversation with Ron Walker and that it was perfectly logical that he should have done so. He had told him that: "My view and the view of the Government about nuclear being an option has been well known. The question of whether it ever goes any further will be a matter for commercial opinion." (not a matter for electorate opinion?).
He was fulsome in his praise of the integrity and the valuable experience that the owners of ANE would bring to the company.
It could be seen that a quaternity that included John Howard (perhaps soon to retire from Parliament) could form a powerful consortium.
Dr Switkowski, the leader of the committee selected to investigate Australia's future power requirements, said objections about nuclear power had shifted from being "deep emotionally held" to business considerations about cost and location. Nuclear was an obvious choice if Australians seriously believed in trying to use cleaner sources of energy.
Duncan Paterson, Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Australian Ethical Research stated in a letter to Dr Switkowski:
"I am particularly concerned about the notion that we can somehow become 'partially' involved in the nuclear fuel cycle. Dr Switkowski, as a nuclear physicist I am sure you know as well as anybody that if Australia was to start down the path toward an enrichment industry, we would have to make a considerable investment in new infrastructure, training and academiaŚwe would essentially be starting new institutions from scratch, and the establishment of this sort of physical and intellectual infrastructure requires a long-term commitment.
If we start down this road now, I fear that we will be committed beyond our capacity to pull out when it becomes clear that other technologies, renewable technologies, are offering better, cheaper and cleaner solutions to our environmental challenges."
March 4, 2007
Dr Switkowski, who headed the prime minister's inquiry into the viability of nuclear reactors in Australia, has been appointed chairman of ANSTO, the national body in charge of nuclear research and development.
Science Minister Julie Bishop said the appointment had been approved by cabinet and signed off by Governor-General Michael Jeffery on Friday.
She said Dr Switkowski, whose report to government last year suggested a scenario in which 25 nuclear reactors could supply up to 30 per cent of Australia's electricity, would concentrate on developing Australia's nuclear science expertise in his new role with ANSTO.
"I sometimes think that never blows so red
The rose as where some buried Cæsar bled..."