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Jul 25, 2006

Transcript of Radio National Breakfast with Fran Kelly – Uranium Mining

Transcript of Radio Interview

Radio National Breakfast with Fran Kelly, Uranium Mining

25 July 2006

FRAN KELLY: Let’s stay with Labor’s uranium U-turn. Environment spokesman, Anthony Albanese, is opposed to changing his party’s policy. He joins us now.

Anthony, welcome.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning, Fran.

FRAN KELLY: Well, Kim Beazley says it’s in the national interest to allow more mining of uranium and it’s hard to argue against that in economic terms given the current resources boom, isn’t it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, you’ve got to put it in perspective, though. Uranium exports were worth some $500 million last year, at the same level as manganese ore and oxide, and I don’t see that on the front page of the newspapers.

FRAN KELLY: Uranium prices are booming, though; they’re going up.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yes, but they’re still less than one per cent of our mineral exports. The real opportunity that’s available for Australia, and why this debate is a distraction from it, is in the area of renewables. This is an emerging trillion-dollar industry. It’s an industry that creates jobs—big time—in manufacturing here in Australia. We saw, when the Chinese Premier was here earlier this year, one contract signed by Roaring 40s in Tasmania worth $300 million to export wind farms to China. These are the real opportunities that are available. They’ve been dropped by the Howard government, which is ignoring this potential, and unfortunately this debate is a distraction from the very strong policy that Kim Beazley has announced in response to climate change and supporting the renewable energy industry.

FRAN KELLY: Well, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, though; uranium mining and renewable energy. The point is that Labor has had this internal division over this issue for a long time. For a long time it’s been accused of being an illogical position, half pregnant, and let’s take it to its conclusion: if your position prevailed at next year’s Labor Party conference, the policies stay the same, Australia will still become the world’s biggest supplier of uranium—mining uranium—once the Olympic Dam is expanded.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, our policy balances the environmental and social consequences of the nuclear fuel cycle and says that we don’t want to be further involved in it.

FRAN KELLY: But we’re already going to be the No. 1 supplier.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s right. Well, the alternative to that is to rip up economic contracts, to pay massive compensation to the companies that have those contracts. Now, Labor isn’t about to do that and the anti-nuclear position within the Labor Party doesn’t argue that. We argue for a balanced position that balances our economically responsible position of sovereignty of contracts with the position that says Australia is as far into the nuclear fuel cycle as we should be.

FRAN KELLY: There’s a sense that Kim Beazley has made this announcement in an effort to try and, to some degree, neutralise this issue as John Howard has gone much further down the discussion in the debate on nuclear energy. He’s moving the debate towards: should we have enrichment of uranium here; should we move towards nuclear energy? Is Kim Beazley just trying to sort of get on equal footing here so he can at least not have this blow up in his face as an issue with the Howard government accusing him of being weak, of Labor’s position … illogical? And, in that sense, are you just making things very difficult for your leader by speaking out like this?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I’m supporting the Labor Party’s existing platform, as I’m obliged to do, which has the overwhelming support of Labor Party members. This is a debate about values that goes to the core of what the Labor Party is about, that we don’t think that society is just made up of economic transactions between economic entities, that we actually look at the consequences of the sale of uranium. And in this case you have, in the United States, nuclear energy’s greatest proponents—the Bush administration—putting their hand up and admitting defeat by the whole global nuclear energy partnership proposal, which John Howard seems to be enamoured with, that is, that countries enrich uranium, lease nuclear fuel rods and then the waste goes back to the country of origin, is an admission by the Bush administration that nuclear proliferation treaty regime is almost non-existent, that the nuclear waste issue hasn’t been resolved and this is from nuclear energy’s greatest proponents.

FRAN KELLY: But Anthony, can’t Kim Beazley claim that he’s on, if you like, if you sort of look at it through your prism, the side of the angels on this, on this whole very issue about values because he’s saying a Labor government would never allow enrichment of uranium; it would put stronger safeguards on the exporting of uranium than currently exists and it would certainly never allow nuclear energy in this country.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: And those positions are certainly welcomed. But what I argue for is, just as in industrial relations where we have a strong, clear position due to our opposition on AWAs, we need to have a strong, clear, coherent, anti-nuclear, anti-uranium position. That’s what the current platform allows for. It has the overwhelming support of Labor Party members in the era of terrorism, and of course we have the issue of Iran at the moment being a graphic demonstration of the problem that’s there, and the direct links between the nuclear energy industry and nuclear proliferation.

FRAN KELLY: Anthony, many would say that Labor’s current position is anything but coherent. But if you accept that a lot of people support this, are you concerned that not only this will be a divisive debate within Labor but it will attract many people who would have voted Labor perhaps over to the Greens? Is that what you’re really concerned about?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I’m concerned about the policy principles but I’m also concerned about the politics of this issue. I don’t believe that there are people in marginal electorates who voted conservative at the last election who’ll say: now, if Labor just changes our anti-uranium policy, then I’ll change my vote to Labor. I don’t think they exist. But I do think that every time Labor sells a Commonwealth Bank or changes a uranium policy in this fashion, then more of our base drifts away.

We have a problem with our primary vote in this nation and we’ve got to lift it well above 40 per cent if we’re going to make Kim Beazley prime minister at the next election. And I don’t think, I don’t think you lift your primary vote from walking away from fundamental principles.

FRAN KELLY: Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for joining us.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to talk to you, Fran.

FRAN KELLY: That’s Labor’s Shadow Environment spokesperson, Anthony Albanese.

 

Jul 25, 2006

Transcript of Radio National Breakfast with Fran Kelly – Uranium Mining

Transcript of Radio Interview

Radio National Breakfast with Fran Kelly, Uranium Mining

25 July 2006

FRAN KELLY: Let’s stay with Labor’s uranium U-turn. Environment spokesman, Anthony Albanese, is opposed to changing his party’s policy. He joins us now.

Anthony, welcome.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning, Fran.

FRAN KELLY: Well, Kim Beazley says it’s in the national interest to allow more mining of uranium and it’s hard to argue against that in economic terms given the current resources boom, isn’t it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, you’ve got to put it in perspective, though. Uranium exports were worth some $500 million last year, at the same level as manganese ore and oxide, and I don’t see that on the front page of the newspapers.

FRAN KELLY: Uranium prices are booming, though; they’re going up.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yes, but they’re still less than one per cent of our mineral exports. The real opportunity that’s available for Australia, and why this debate is a distraction from it, is in the area of renewables. This is an emerging trillion-dollar industry. It’s an industry that creates jobs—big time—in manufacturing here in Australia. We saw, when the Chinese Premier was here earlier this year, one contract signed by Roaring 40s in Tasmania worth $300 million to export wind farms to China. These are the real opportunities that are available. They’ve been dropped by the Howard government, which is ignoring this potential, and unfortunately this debate is a distraction from the very strong policy that Kim Beazley has announced in response to climate change and supporting the renewable energy industry.

FRAN KELLY: Well, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, though; uranium mining and renewable energy. The point is that Labor has had this internal division over this issue for a long time. For a long time it’s been accused of being an illogical position, half pregnant, and let’s take it to its conclusion: if your position prevailed at next year’s Labor Party conference, the policies stay the same, Australia will still become the world’s biggest supplier of uranium—mining uranium—once the Olympic Dam is expanded.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, our policy balances the environmental and social consequences of the nuclear fuel cycle and says that we don’t want to be further involved in it.

FRAN KELLY: But we’re already going to be the No. 1 supplier.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s right. Well, the alternative to that is to rip up economic contracts, to pay massive compensation to the companies that have those contracts. Now, Labor isn’t about to do that and the anti-nuclear position within the Labor Party doesn’t argue that. We argue for a balanced position that balances our economically responsible position of sovereignty of contracts with the position that says Australia is as far into the nuclear fuel cycle as we should be.

FRAN KELLY: There’s a sense that Kim Beazley has made this announcement in an effort to try and, to some degree, neutralise this issue as John Howard has gone much further down the discussion in the debate on nuclear energy. He’s moving the debate towards: should we have enrichment of uranium here; should we move towards nuclear energy? Is Kim Beazley just trying to sort of get on equal footing here so he can at least not have this blow up in his face as an issue with the Howard government accusing him of being weak, of Labor’s position … illogical? And, in that sense, are you just making things very difficult for your leader by speaking out like this?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I’m supporting the Labor Party’s existing platform, as I’m obliged to do, which has the overwhelming support of Labor Party members. This is a debate about values that goes to the core of what the Labor Party is about, that we don’t think that society is just made up of economic transactions between economic entities, that we actually look at the consequences of the sale of uranium. And in this case you have, in the United States, nuclear energy’s greatest proponents—the Bush administration—putting their hand up and admitting defeat by the whole global nuclear energy partnership proposal, which John Howard seems to be enamoured with, that is, that countries enrich uranium, lease nuclear fuel rods and then the waste goes back to the country of origin, is an admission by the Bush administration that nuclear proliferation treaty regime is almost non-existent, that the nuclear waste issue hasn’t been resolved and this is from nuclear energy’s greatest proponents.

FRAN KELLY: But Anthony, can’t Kim Beazley claim that he’s on, if you like, if you sort of look at it through your prism, the side of the angels on this, on this whole very issue about values because he’s saying a Labor government would never allow enrichment of uranium; it would put stronger safeguards on the exporting of uranium than currently exists and it would certainly never allow nuclear energy in this country.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: And those positions are certainly welcomed. But what I argue for is, just as in industrial relations where we have a strong, clear position due to our opposition on AWAs, we need to have a strong, clear, coherent, anti-nuclear, anti-uranium position. That’s what the current platform allows for. It has the overwhelming support of Labor Party members in the era of terrorism, and of course we have the issue of Iran at the moment being a graphic demonstration of the problem that’s there, and the direct links between the nuclear energy industry and nuclear proliferation.

FRAN KELLY: Anthony, many would say that Labor’s current position is anything but coherent. But if you accept that a lot of people support this, are you concerned that not only this will be a divisive debate within Labor but it will attract many people who would have voted Labor perhaps over to the Greens? Is that what you’re really concerned about?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I’m concerned about the policy principles but I’m also concerned about the politics of this issue. I don’t believe that there are people in marginal electorates who voted conservative at the last election who’ll say: now, if Labor just changes our anti-uranium policy, then I’ll change my vote to Labor. I don’t think they exist. But I do think that every time Labor sells a Commonwealth Bank or changes a uranium policy in this fashion, then more of our base drifts away.

We have a problem with our primary vote in this nation and we’ve got to lift it well above 40 per cent if we’re going to make Kim Beazley prime minister at the next election. And I don’t think, I don’t think you lift your primary vote from walking away from fundamental principles.

FRAN KELLY: Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for joining us.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to talk to you, Fran.

FRAN KELLY: That’s Labor’s Shadow Environment spokesperson, Anthony Albanese.

 

Jul 25, 2006

Transcript of Media Conference, NSW Parliament House – Uranium Mining

Transcript of Media Conference

NSW Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney

25 July 2006

E & OE – PROOF ONLY

Subject: Uranium Mining

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I am here to talk about Kim Beazley’s announcement that he would be pursuing a change in Labor’s uranium policy at the next National Conference in April; specifically that he would call for removal of Labor’s no new mines policy. I certainly welcome Kim’s statements that he will continue to oppose uranium enrichment for Australia and will continue to oppose nuclear power plants for Australia. However I do oppose any watering-down of Labor’s anti-uranium policy.

Uranium is a moderate export earner but a very big principle. It is big principle because it goes to the heart of the values of the Australian Labor Party. They are values which say that society is much more than just economic arrangements between economic entities, that the consequences of economic activity matter including environmental consequences and social consequences, and the nuclear fuel cycle is one that I don’t believe Australia should be further involved in.

Labor’s current policy balances two principles, one, the principal of economic responsibility; that Labor will not repudiate existing uranium contracts, and secondly that we will not allow any new uranium mines.

The problems with the nuclear fuel cycle are, I believe, more evident today than they were 25 years ago. The issue of nuclear proliferation is more acute today than it was 25 years ago. This policy was produced during the cold war era. The cold war era saw the world brought to the brink of nuclear war by two opposing blocks. Today, in the era of terrorism, we have to be concerned not just about States but about organisations and indeed individuals. The activity of Iran should be a timely reminder of the link between the nuclear power industry and nuclear weapons proliferation. I refer to the statement by the former Vice-President Al Gore, who stated that in his eight years in the White House each and every single issue of nuclear proliferation was related to the nuclear power industry. I think that Labor should bear that in mind.

I also believe very firmly that the issue of nuclear waste has not been resolved. Perhaps the best indication of the outstanding issues relating to the nuclear fuel cycle is with the Bush Administration’s plan for a Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. That partnership would see uranium producers enrich uranium, export nuclear fuel rods and then that waste would then be returned to the country of origin. That is an admission of failure by the nuclear power industry’s greatest advocates that the issues of waste and proliferation are outstanding. That the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty is, in the words of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Mohammad El-Baradei, in a state of disrepair, which is why he has called for a ban on further countries enriching uranium.

I want to conclude by saying that this is also a debate about the Labor Party’s internal processes. I have held policy consultations in Darwin, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and Perth on our Platform in the lead up to next National Conference. Not once did anyone at those consultations say to me ‘I think it is critical that we change our anti-uranium policy’. Of all the ALP branches around Australia which have carried resolutions on this issue there is only one branch that I know of that carried a resolution supporting a change in our policy. So I believe that we have got the balance right. I will be arguing that in the lead-up to the next ALP National Conference. I will be arguing that we maintain our balanced position and have a very clear distinction in opposition to the pro-nuclear and pro-uranium policies of the Howard Government.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible]

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is not good policy but it is also not good politics. I think it is very hard to argue that there are people out there in marginal electorates, who voted for John Howard and the Liberal Party at the last election, who will change their vote to Labor if Labor changes our anti-uranium policy. I simply don’t think that is the case.

I do think that every time that the Labor Party walks away from a fundamental principle which is held by its membership then it does have an impact on Labor’s electoral standing. I believe that overwhelmingly the Australian public are very cautious about the nuclear fuel cycle and each time that it has been an election issue, including in Western Australia, it has been rejected by the Australian public. Newspoll showed that only some 22% of Australians were opposed to Labor’s no new mines policy. That indicates that out there in the public there is great concern about any further involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.

JOURNALIST: Haven’t you got a position that really equates to being half pregnant … I mean all these problems still exist with the nuclear fuel cycle. Why not ban uranium mining all together?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Because you have got two principles. One is the principle that says that we should not be further involved in the nuclear fuel cycle. The second principle, that is just as important, is that the Labor Party and incoming Labor governments will act in an economically responsible way.

The issue of existing contracts is an issue of sovereignty. Labor should respect all existing contracts and should therefore not support closing existing mines. That is why we have a no new mines policy. It respects economic sovereignty but is also environmentally responsible.

We need to put this in some perspective. Uranium exports last year were worth some five hundred million dollars to Australia, the same as Magnesium Ore and Oxide, and one half of that of cheese. Cheese has less holes in it than Uranium.

When put in perspective, the whole focus on uranium is in my view is a massive distraction in what we need to do in terms of the renewable energy industry, which is an expanding trillion dollar industry. We are currently missing out on those opportunities. When Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao came to Australia earlier this year his contract for exports of Australian uranium to China got a lot of publicity. What didn’t get a lot of publicity was the three hundred million dollar deal to export three wind farms from the Roaring Forties Company in Tasmania. That puts the potential for renewables in perspective.

JOURNALIST: When Kim says this is in the national interest … [inaudible]?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think the national interest is in the Labor Party having a coherent anti-nuclear position and which is also good policy as global citizens. That is why I believe our existing policy serves us well and serves that national interest well.

JOURNALIST: Obviously it is incumbent on you to make these points now, you believe in them strongly and you speak for a group in the party that believes them, but conference is going to be six months before a federal election. You wouldn’t seriously be proposing sending Kim Beazley to conference as a fatally wounded leader on an issue like this would you?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I attended a conference a few years ago at Sydney Town Hall where the Premier Bob Carr and the Treasurer Michael Egan put forward a proposition for electricity privatisation in NSW. I think they struggled to get to 5% support on the floor of the conference. It was rejected overwhelming by conference delegates and the Labor Party emerged stronger as a result; as a result of having a democratic debate and a democratic determination. I think people respect that. Labor’s vote increased at the subsequent election.

I don’t think that the Labor Party has anything to fear from a democratic debate and a democratic resolution of these issues. Unless we are prepared to do that then there is not much point people being in the Labor Party.

JOURNALIST: When Kim Beazley says something is in the national interest and can’t carry at conference do you seriously think that Howard and Costello aren’t going to rub their hands together and think that all their Christmases came at once?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think that Howard and Costello have got their own problems. We will wait and see who’s who in the zoo next April.

JOURNALIST: What kind of numbers do you have in the Party to defeat Mr Beazley on this issue?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It is very clear in terms of Party affiliates that I have spoken to, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Miscellaneous Workers Union, Miners Federation and other unions have made their position clear in support of the existing policy. Branches around the country have carried resolutions supporting the existing policy. I think there is very large support for it. I think that there’s a great deal of caution for Australia being further involved in the nuclear power cycle.

JOURNALIST: Is it going to come down to a vote along factional lines and, excuse ignorance, I don’t know how they stack up at conference?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, I don’t think it will. There are Senior Shadow Ministers from the left, right and centre who support the existing policy and there are some people from the same groups who oppose the existing policy. I think this will be a debate on its merits. The fact that Kim has put forward his position so early means that everyone knows what that position is. We will have debate and no doubt input from party units. I spoke to someone this morning who was talking of resigning from the Labor Party over this issue. I would say to people such as that to stay in and be a part of democratic processes in the Labor Party, and I would hope that people would join the Labor Party to have a voice in what the alternative government’s position is.

JOURNALIST: What do you think of [inaudible]?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think it is up to Kim to speak to for himself. I don’t intend to comment on that. Kim approached me last week. We had a discussion about the merits of changing the policy. I put my position clearly to him. He then indicated some days later that he would be pursuing his speech last night and I indicated to him that I would be making clear my opposition. So this is policy debate from the last democratic party left in Australia and we will be seeing it in full over the coming months.

JOURNALIST: Are you worried about a backlash in your own seat of Grayndler?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, this isn’t about my seat. It is about my position as Shadow Environment Minister. I believe very strongly that the Australian public want to vote for a Labor government that will have an Environment Minister who will actually speak up in the interest of the environment, who will take on vested interested interests and from time to time take risks like I am doing on this issue.

I have had this position since I was at university. One of greatest farces of this debate, with due respect to some of the nuclear advocates, is the argument that we haven’t had a nuclear debate. I have been debating these issues since I was at school and that was a considerable period of time ago. I have held those views. I feel them more strongly today because of the issue of nuclear proliferation, which I believe is much more acute than it has ever been, and because of the issue of nuclear waste. The fact is that you have the Bush Administration effectively conceding defeat on the issue of being able to control waste and proliferation.

JOURNALIST: Given that, if you lose on this issue would you leave the Labor Party?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, certainly not. I believe very strongly in the Australian Labor Party. One of my concerns about this debate is that it distracts us from what we should be talking about which is Kim Beazley’s Climate Change Blueprint; a very strong position that would actually create jobs, increase export performance for Australia. This is a distraction and what we are not doing is talking about the inadequacies of the Howard Government and our forward looking plans including to expand the renewable energy industry.

For that reason I will certainly argue my case within the Labor Party. I will accept the result at the ALP National Conference next April. If I was going to leave the Labor Party if I was disappointed at a single decision then I probably wouldn’t be sitting here now. You roll with the punches. But, can I say, that people are not just going through the motions. In case you hadn’t noticed we are very serious. The opponents of a change to this policy and myself and others intend to pursue this right up to the national conference.

JOURNALIST: How many lower house seats could the Greens win on this issue?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I don’t think the Greens are a viable proposition to win lower house seats anywhere. I don’t think they have been part of the main game when it comes to the serious debate about climate change. I think people out there when it comes to serous environmental politics, understand that the modern agenda needs more than slogans, which is all the Greens offer. You need a coherent policy approach. Labor has that coherent policy approach, particularly on climate change which is the most serious issue facing the global community.

Thank you.

THE END

 

Jul 25, 2006

Transcript of Radio Interview – AM – Uranium Mining

Transcript of Radio Interview – AM – Tony Eastley

Tuesday, 25 July 2006

E & OE – PROOF ONLY

Subject: Uranium Mining

TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Labor Leader’s u-turn on uranium mining has re-opened some old wounds and political fronts as well. Kim Beazley wants Labor to abandon its policy of ‘no new uranium mines’ and allow Australia to become the world’s biggest uranium exporter. He says that as far as it goes though, he is adamant Australia should not get involved in uranium enrichment, or for that matter, nuclear power. Karen Barlow reports.

KAREN BARLOW: Kim Beazley says abolishing Labor’s 22 year old policy against new uranium mines is in the national interest.

KIM BEAZLEY: Supporting uranium will help to build our future prosperity and pay off John Howard’s foreign debt. With demand for uranium worldwide increasing rapidly, some forecast earnings on uranium exports could increase by 50% this year alone.

KAREN BARLOW: But Mr Beazley told the Sydney Institute last night that he wants to impose strict mine ownership and export safeguards to ensure Australian uranium is sold responsibly.

KIM BEAZLEY: I believe that terrorism, poverty, climate change and the spread of weapons of mass destruction are the four critical international challenges of our age. Australia has no greater international obligations and no greater international opportunities than those granted by our position as a nuclear supplier.

KAREN BARLOW: It’s got mining and exploration companies in a lather. Ron Matthews is the manager of exploration at leading uranium explorer Cameco.

RON MATTHEWS: What it means is I think more companies can start exploring with the confidence that they have the opportunity to, if they find something significant, to go to a mine.

KAREN BARLOW: But first Kim Beazley has some convincing to do. The Labor Leader has to take his change of heart to next April’s ALP National Conference. Some front bench colleagues and rank and file members, like Gary Wood from the West Australian Branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, have condemned the move.

GARY WOOD: Quite simply what he’s saying is that we’ll ship it off shore, we’ll unload the problem to somebody else to try and find a way of disposing it, and from a union point of view we certainly would oppose that position.

Quite clearly we believe we have a responsibility not only to people within our own country but throughout the world.

KAREN BARLOW: But he has the support of the Australian Workers’ Union. Its national president Bill Ludwig holds several key ALP Executive positions.

BILL LUDWIG: We are very pleased, and me particularly, are very pleased that Kim has taken that initiative.

TONY EASTLEY: Bill Ludwig, QLD Labor powerbroker, ending that report from Karen Barlow. Well Kim Beazley has months to sell his ideas to the party’s rank and file, but it won’t be easy, with elements of the party dead against any change in uranium policy. One of them is Labor’s environment spokesman Anthony Albanese. He’s speaking to Louise Yaxley.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I have a difference of opinion with Kim on this issue. This is a policy debate and it’s an issue which I hold very strong views on.

I’m actually a politician who believes in things and I’ll argue for what I believe in. Other people in the party will do the same and we’ll have that determination at the ALP National Conference next April.

LOUISE YAXLEY: Does this come down to votes in the end? What will voters do if the party adopts the policy that Mr Beazley is suggesting?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well no, I think this comes down to an issue of principle and I certainly argue this from a principled basis. But I also argue that the politics of this are wrong for the Labor Party.

I do not believe that there are people out there in marginal seats who have been voting for John Howard and the Liberal Party, who’ll say, “If Labor changes its ‘no new mines’ uranium policy, I’ll change my vote to the Labor Party.” Frankly I think that is an absurd position.

LOUISE YAXLEY: But will they say that they can see that Labor can see the export dollars available from the uranium and that this can help pay off the trade deficit, and that that shows the party’s economic credentials.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We need to put it in absolute perspective. We’re talking about exports last year of $500 million, the same figure as we got from manganese ore and concentrate, and I don’t see manganese ore and concentrate on the front page of the newspapers.

This has been an ideological push. It’s an ideological push from people who disagree with the view that society is more than economic exchanges between economic entities.

LOUISE YAXLEY: Well that includes people in your own faction like Martin Ferguson.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Social and environmental consequences of sales actually do matter. In the time of terrorism, I would have thought that the issues concerning nuclear proliferation, as has been argued by people such as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohammed El Baradei, were more acute today than they’ve ever been before.

LOUISE YAXLEY: But Australia is already selling considerable amounts of uranium under Australia’s existing policy, Labor’s existing policy.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s correct, because Labor balances our anti-uranium and anti-nuclear policy with the economically responsible position that we don’t repudiate contracts. That’s a balance that I think we’ve got right.

LOUISE YAXLEY: But it does look half pregnant, as many people say.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: People are now arguing of course, and the conservatives will argue that if you sell uranium you should enrich it and you should have nuclear power plants domestically. It’s a matter of where you draw the line. The truth is that our current position is a responsible position economically, but it’s also responsible environmentally and socially.

TONY EASTLEY: Labor’s environment spokesman Anthony Albanese.

ENDS

 

Jul 25, 2006

Transcript of TV Interview – Seven Morning News – Uranium Mining

Transcript of TV Interview – Seven Morning News

Tuesday, 25 July 2006

E & OE – PROOF ONLY

Subject: Uranium Mining

REPORTER: To other news now and Opposition Leader Kim Beazley is defending his U-turn on uranium mining. Mr Beazley wants to replace the longstanding policy which restricts uranium production to just three mines. Kim Beazley isn’t wasting any time to sell his proposed policy shift on uranium.

KIM BEAZLEY: It’s no longer an issue of who digs it up or whether or not it’s dug up. Frankly, that issue was resolved in the early 1980s.

REPORTER: The Opposition Leader wants Labor to allow new uranium mines but says he won’t support nuclear power or uranium enrichment.

KIM BEAZLEY: You cannot enrich uranium in this day and age without taking it back.

REPORTER: The Prime Minister claims Mr Beazley’s position is confusing.

JOHN HOWARD: It’s either all good or all bad. The stuff in Western Australia and South Australia or the Northern Territory can’t be good, and uranium perhaps discovered in Queensland, bad. That’s just an absurd proposition.

REPORTER: The policy U-turn has split the ALP and the wider Labor movement, although Mr Beazley is playing down the impact of any rift.

KIM BEAZLEY: There won’t be blood on the walls but there will be a serious argument.

REPORTER: Labor’s national conference still has to sign off on the plan which will be a major test of Kim Beazley’s leadership, as he banks on the rest of his party falling behind him. Mr Howard says he predicts the policy will be carried.

JOHN HOWARD: All it does is bring them limping towards basic commonsense.

REPORTER: Not everyone in the Labor Party is happy with this change in policy. Environment spokesman Anthony Albanese says he will fight his leader’s stand on the issue. I spoke to him a short time ago. Good morning, Mr Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning, Anne.

REPORTER: Firstly, why are you opposed to the lifting of Labor’s ban on new uranium mines?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Uranium is a moderate export earner, but it’s a big principle in the Labor Party. And I believe we’ve got the principle right: an economically responsible position which says we won’t repudiate contracts but one which recognises the environmental and social dangers involved in further involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.

REPORTER: Was this apparent U-turn by Mr Beazley then not made with the blessing of the party?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: He’s indicated the position that he’ll take to the ALP National conference next April. We’ll have a debate between now and then and it’s up to the delegates to that conference to determine Labor Party policy. The Labor Party is the last of the democratic parties in Australia and we’re seeing that being exercised at the moment.

REPORTER: Mr Beazley said his change of position is aimed at lifting prosperity of the country. How do you argue against economics?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What you do is you argue that there are values other than economics.

Not just the fact that $500 million of exports from uranium last year pale into insignificance compared with the opportunities that are available particularly with the emerging trillion-dollar renewable energy industry. So we have to put it in perspective.

But secondly, this is a debate about values. The Labor Party’s current policy recognises that society is more than economic transactions between individuals and companies – that we need to recognise the environmental and social consequences of economic activity. And with the issue of uranium mining, we need to recognise that nuclear proliferation and highly toxic nuclear waste remain substantial outstanding issues and until such time as that’s resolved we shouldn’t be further involved in the nuclear fuel cycle.

REPORTER: But are you opposed to this change of policy because your own party, and your own seat, is under pressure from the Greens and you’re trying to look after your own backyard?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, I’ve always held this position, a long time before I was in Parliament. I think the reasons for being cautious about uranium mining are more today then they’ve ever been.

REPORTER: Anthony Albanese, thank you for your time this morning.

ENDS

 

Jul 25, 2006

Transcript of TV Interview – Seven Morning News – Uranium Mining

Transcript of TV Interview – Seven Morning News

Tuesday, 25 July 2006

E & OE – PROOF ONLY

Subject: Uranium Mining

REPORTER: To other news now and Opposition Leader Kim Beazley is defending his U-turn on uranium mining. Mr Beazley wants to replace the longstanding policy which restricts uranium production to just three mines. Kim Beazley isn’t wasting any time to sell his proposed policy shift on uranium.

KIM BEAZLEY: It’s no longer an issue of who digs it up or whether or not it’s dug up. Frankly, that issue was resolved in the early 1980s.

REPORTER: The Opposition Leader wants Labor to allow new uranium mines but says he won’t support nuclear power or uranium enrichment.

KIM BEAZLEY: You cannot enrich uranium in this day and age without taking it back.

REPORTER: The Prime Minister claims Mr Beazley’s position is confusing.

JOHN HOWARD: It’s either all good or all bad. The stuff in Western Australia and South Australia or the Northern Territory can’t be good, and uranium perhaps discovered in Queensland, bad. That’s just an absurd proposition.

REPORTER: The policy U-turn has split the ALP and the wider Labor movement, although Mr Beazley is playing down the impact of any rift.

KIM BEAZLEY: There won’t be blood on the walls but there will be a serious argument.

REPORTER: Labor’s national conference still has to sign off on the plan which will be a major test of Kim Beazley’s leadership, as he banks on the rest of his party falling behind him. Mr Howard says he predicts the policy will be carried.

JOHN HOWARD: All it does is bring them limping towards basic commonsense.

REPORTER: Not everyone in the Labor Party is happy with this change in policy. Environment spokesman Anthony Albanese says he will fight his leader’s stand on the issue. I spoke to him a short time ago. Good morning, Mr Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning, Anne.

REPORTER: Firstly, why are you opposed to the lifting of Labor’s ban on new uranium mines?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Uranium is a moderate export earner, but it’s a big principle in the Labor Party. And I believe we’ve got the principle right: an economically responsible position which says we won’t repudiate contracts but one which recognises the environmental and social dangers involved in further involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.

REPORTER: Was this apparent U-turn by Mr Beazley then not made with the blessing of the party?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: He’s indicated the position that he’ll take to the ALP National conference next April. We’ll have a debate between now and then and it’s up to the delegates to that conference to determine Labor Party policy. The Labor Party is the last of the democratic parties in Australia and we’re seeing that being exercised at the moment.

REPORTER: Mr Beazley said his change of position is aimed at lifting prosperity of the country. How do you argue against economics?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What you do is you argue that there are values other than economics.

Not just the fact that $500 million of exports from uranium last year pale into insignificance compared with the opportunities that are available particularly with the emerging trillion-dollar renewable energy industry. So we have to put it in perspective.

But secondly, this is a debate about values. The Labor Party’s current policy recognises that society is more than economic transactions between individuals and companies – that we need to recognise the environmental and social consequences of economic activity. And with the issue of uranium mining, we need to recognise that nuclear proliferation and highly toxic nuclear waste remain substantial outstanding issues and until such time as that’s resolved we shouldn’t be further involved in the nuclear fuel cycle.

REPORTER: But are you opposed to this change of policy because your own party, and your own seat, is under pressure from the Greens and you’re trying to look after your own backyard?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, I’ve always held this position, a long time before I was in Parliament. I think the reasons for being cautious about uranium mining are more today then they’ve ever been.

REPORTER: Anthony Albanese, thank you for your time this morning.

ENDS

 

Jul 25, 2006

Transcript of Radio Interview – AM – Uranium Mining

Transcript of Radio Interview – AM – Tony Eastley

Tuesday, 25 July 2006

E & OE – PROOF ONLY

Subject: Uranium Mining

TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Labor Leader’s u-turn on uranium mining has re-opened some old wounds and political fronts as well. Kim Beazley wants Labor to abandon its policy of ‘no new uranium mines’ and allow Australia to become the world’s biggest uranium exporter. He says that as far as it goes though, he is adamant Australia should not get involved in uranium enrichment, or for that matter, nuclear power. Karen Barlow reports.

KAREN BARLOW: Kim Beazley says abolishing Labor’s 22 year old policy against new uranium mines is in the national interest.

KIM BEAZLEY: Supporting uranium will help to build our future prosperity and pay off John Howard’s foreign debt. With demand for uranium worldwide increasing rapidly, some forecast earnings on uranium exports could increase by 50% this year alone.

KAREN BARLOW: But Mr Beazley told the Sydney Institute last night that he wants to impose strict mine ownership and export safeguards to ensure Australian uranium is sold responsibly.

KIM BEAZLEY: I believe that terrorism, poverty, climate change and the spread of weapons of mass destruction are the four critical international challenges of our age. Australia has no greater international obligations and no greater international opportunities than those granted by our position as a nuclear supplier.

KAREN BARLOW: It’s got mining and exploration companies in a lather. Ron Matthews is the manager of exploration at leading uranium explorer Cameco.

RON MATTHEWS: What it means is I think more companies can start exploring with the confidence that they have the opportunity to, if they find something significant, to go to a mine.

KAREN BARLOW: But first Kim Beazley has some convincing to do. The Labor Leader has to take his change of heart to next April’s ALP National Conference. Some front bench colleagues and rank and file members, like Gary Wood from the West Australian Branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, have condemned the move.

GARY WOOD: Quite simply what he’s saying is that we’ll ship it off shore, we’ll unload the problem to somebody else to try and find a way of disposing it, and from a union point of view we certainly would oppose that position.

Quite clearly we believe we have a responsibility not only to people within our own country but throughout the world.

KAREN BARLOW: But he has the support of the Australian Workers’ Union. Its national president Bill Ludwig holds several key ALP Executive positions.

BILL LUDWIG: We are very pleased, and me particularly, are very pleased that Kim has taken that initiative.

TONY EASTLEY: Bill Ludwig, QLD Labor powerbroker, ending that report from Karen Barlow. Well Kim Beazley has months to sell his ideas to the party’s rank and file, but it won’t be easy, with elements of the party dead against any change in uranium policy. One of them is Labor’s environment spokesman Anthony Albanese. He’s speaking to Louise Yaxley.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I have a difference of opinion with Kim on this issue. This is a policy debate and it’s an issue which I hold very strong views on.

I’m actually a politician who believes in things and I’ll argue for what I believe in. Other people in the party will do the same and we’ll have that determination at the ALP National Conference next April.

LOUISE YAXLEY: Does this come down to votes in the end? What will voters do if the party adopts the policy that Mr Beazley is suggesting?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well no, I think this comes down to an issue of principle and I certainly argue this from a principled basis. But I also argue that the politics of this are wrong for the Labor Party.

I do not believe that there are people out there in marginal seats who have been voting for John Howard and the Liberal Party, who’ll say, “If Labor changes its ‘no new mines’ uranium policy, I’ll change my vote to the Labor Party.” Frankly I think that is an absurd position.

LOUISE YAXLEY: But will they say that they can see that Labor can see the export dollars available from the uranium and that this can help pay off the trade deficit, and that that shows the party’s economic credentials.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We need to put it in absolute perspective. We’re talking about exports last year of $500 million, the same figure as we got from manganese ore and concentrate, and I don’t see manganese ore and concentrate on the front page of the newspapers.

This has been an ideological push. It’s an ideological push from people who disagree with the view that society is more than economic exchanges between economic entities.

LOUISE YAXLEY: Well that includes people in your own faction like Martin Ferguson.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Social and environmental consequences of sales actually do matter. In the time of terrorism, I would have thought that the issues concerning nuclear proliferation, as has been argued by people such as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohammed El Baradei, were more acute today than they’ve ever been before.

LOUISE YAXLEY: But Australia is already selling considerable amounts of uranium under Australia’s existing policy, Labor’s existing policy.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s correct, because Labor balances our anti-uranium and anti-nuclear policy with the economically responsible position that we don’t repudiate contracts. That’s a balance that I think we’ve got right.

LOUISE YAXLEY: But it does look half pregnant, as many people say.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: People are now arguing of course, and the conservatives will argue that if you sell uranium you should enrich it and you should have nuclear power plants domestically. It’s a matter of where you draw the line. The truth is that our current position is a responsible position economically, but it’s also responsible environmentally and socially.

TONY EASTLEY: Labor’s environment spokesman Anthony Albanese.

ENDS

 

Jun 16, 2006

Transcript: International Whaling Commission Meeting, Nuclear Incident

Transcript of Doorstop, Parliament House, Canberra

Friday, 16 June 2006

E & OE – Proof Only

Subject: International Whaling Commission Meeting, Nuclear Incident

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today is a crucial meeting for the International Whaling Commission in St Kitts.

Labor’s concerned that despite the fact 41 anti-whaling resolutions have been passed at the IWC, more whales have been slaughtered in Australian waters this season than ever before.

It’s also of concern that Japan could get a simple majority at this conference. Whilst it’s clear they won’t be able to return to commercial whaling with a three quarters majority, a simple majority will allow them to remove conservation from the agenda of the IWC, allow them to introduce secret ballots, and allow them to change procedures so that a move to commercial whaling at a future IWC meeting is made more possible.

It is quite clear that regardless of the outcome at St Kitts, Japan will continue to slaughter whales in Australian waters. Japan will continue to go on slaughtering whales until a court tells them they can’t. That’s why we need to back up our diplomatic efforts with legal action, take Japan and other whaling nations to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea if this slaughter is going to be stopped for all time.

JOURNALIST: What support does Australia have? I believe the Solomon Islands might abstain, and there might be some other support for our stance?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Hopefully that will occur. I wish Senator Campbell well and I wish the Australian delegation well in achieving a maximum vote for conservation at the IWC meeting.

What is of concern is the fact that Australia’s position with the Pacific Island states is undermined by our failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and take action on the international environmental issue of most concern to them, that is, avoiding dangerous climate change.

It is of concern that countries such as Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, and others that you would expect to have a pro-conservation position; that you would expect to be voting with Australia, are either voting against Australia or abstaining on the issue of whaling.

JOURNALIST: What evidence is there that you aware of that those smaller nations are basically being bought off by countries like Japan?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well certainly there’s a real concern about corruption at the IWC, and there’s a concern if you look at where aid money has gone and where support has gone to particular countries, there does appear to be a link between that and voting patterns at the IWC.

That’s why we need to make sure we don’t simply rely on last minute diplomatic efforts. We need to show the world that we’re serious – take Japan to court.

Just as we did on the issue of southern blue fin tuna in 1999, when not only did the Australian Government take Japan to the international tribunal, we flew the then Attorney-General Daryl Williams over to Europe to represent Australia in that case.

It’s about time Australia showed that it was serious and put some steel into its diplomatic efforts by taking legal action.

JOURNALIST: Prior to court action, a number of other ideas have been floated for example using fishing licences and agreements to pressure Japan. Also there’s been a call by Greenpeace for the PM to pick up the phone and directly urge Mr Koizumi to stop whaling. Would you endorse those suggestions?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well certainly the Prime Minister should be prepared to do that.

I notice yesterday he said Australia had no greater friend in our neighbourhood than Japan. And I think that’s right. We should be using our good relations with Japan to pick up the phone and say that this is an issue of environmental concern to each and every Australian.

It’s also a significant economic issue for Australia with the tourism and whale watching industries expanding every year by extraordinary proportions.

We should recognise that these magnificent mammals are worth far more alive through the whale watching industry and through supporting our environmental programs than they are ending up in tuck shops in Japanese schools.

It’s also the case that Japan now has an extraordinary amount of whale meat essentially in freezers because they can’t get rid of it. Consumption isn’t keeping up with the slaughter of whales in Australian waters.

This is an issue of sovereignty. The Prime Minister makes a lot of talking about borders. We know he’s been prepared to give away our borders on immigration issues, but on this issue we have the Australian Whale Sanctuary declared by the Australian Government in the Southern Ocean where Japan is taking more and more whales and where it’s declared this year it will add to its catch by taking humpback whales as well. Surely this is unacceptable and it’s extraordinary that the only intervention by the Howard Government in the courts has been to intervene against the case by Humane Society International last year which was seeking to uphold Australian law in Australian waters.

JOURNALIST: Has the Labor Party itself made any representations recently to Japan on this matter?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well frankly these representations are at Government to Government level. Certainly the Labor Party has made its position clear in whatever forums possible – we have made that position clear. And I know in terms of the work that Bob Sercombe has done in the Pacific, and also Kevin Rudd has made his position clear as the ALP’s foreign affairs spokesman.

JOURNALIST: On nuclear power, should Australians be concerned by the four incidents at Lucas Heights or is it just scaremongering as the Government says to draw those incidents to the debate?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I think it’s pretty reasonable that when you have an incident at a nuclear facility the local community should have a right to know.

It’s reasonable that the Science Minister not stand up in Parliament and say there hadn’t been any radioactive gases into the atmosphere when in fact there were. Xenon and Krypton leaked into the atmosphere around Lucas Heights.

I find it extraordinary that even after that incident on June 8, which significantly was the day Ziggy Switkowski stood aside from the ANSTO board to take up his position as the Chair of the Prime Minister’s nuclear task force, to impose nuclear power on Australia, that the Minister didn’t seem to be aware of that detail, didn’t seem to be aware yesterday when we raised in Parliament that there had been another incident the day before. I think Australians should be concerned about that.

This is also in the context whereby in the leaked Cabinet report from 1997, where the Government looked at a shortlist of 14 nuclear sites, they made a conscious decision to keep those sites secret from the Australian public because of a political decision that is very explicit in those Cabinet documents.

I think what these incidents show is that the Prime Minister has a responsibility to actually outline where his nuclear reactors will go and where the nuclear waste should go.

It’s no wonder the Prime Minister wants to keep those details of locations of nuclear facilities secret from the Australian public in this inquiry, which has no credibility unless it actually looks at where they will go.

 

Jun 16, 2006

Transcript: International Whaling Commission Meeting, Nuclear Incident

Transcript of Doorstop, Parliament House, Canberra

Friday, 16 June 2006

E & OE – Proof Only

Subject: International Whaling Commission Meeting, Nuclear Incident

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today is a crucial meeting for the International Whaling Commission in St Kitts.

Labor’s concerned that despite the fact 41 anti-whaling resolutions have been passed at the IWC, more whales have been slaughtered in Australian waters this season than ever before.

It’s also of concern that Japan could get a simple majority at this conference. Whilst it’s clear they won’t be able to return to commercial whaling with a three quarters majority, a simple majority will allow them to remove conservation from the agenda of the IWC, allow them to introduce secret ballots, and allow them to change procedures so that a move to commercial whaling at a future IWC meeting is made more possible.

It is quite clear that regardless of the outcome at St Kitts, Japan will continue to slaughter whales in Australian waters. Japan will continue to go on slaughtering whales until a court tells them they can’t. That’s why we need to back up our diplomatic efforts with legal action, take Japan and other whaling nations to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea if this slaughter is going to be stopped for all time.

JOURNALIST: What support does Australia have? I believe the Solomon Islands might abstain, and there might be some other support for our stance?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Hopefully that will occur. I wish Senator Campbell well and I wish the Australian delegation well in achieving a maximum vote for conservation at the IWC meeting.

What is of concern is the fact that Australia’s position with the Pacific Island states is undermined by our failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and take action on the international environmental issue of most concern to them, that is, avoiding dangerous climate change.

It is of concern that countries such as Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, and others that you would expect to have a pro-conservation position; that you would expect to be voting with Australia, are either voting against Australia or abstaining on the issue of whaling.

JOURNALIST: What evidence is there that you aware of that those smaller nations are basically being bought off by countries like Japan?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well certainly there’s a real concern about corruption at the IWC, and there’s a concern if you look at where aid money has gone and where support has gone to particular countries, there does appear to be a link between that and voting patterns at the IWC.

That’s why we need to make sure we don’t simply rely on last minute diplomatic efforts. We need to show the world that we’re serious – take Japan to court.

Just as we did on the issue of southern blue fin tuna in 1999, when not only did the Australian Government take Japan to the international tribunal, we flew the then Attorney-General Daryl Williams over to Europe to represent Australia in that case.

It’s about time Australia showed that it was serious and put some steel into its diplomatic efforts by taking legal action.

JOURNALIST: Prior to court action, a number of other ideas have been floated for example using fishing licences and agreements to pressure Japan. Also there’s been a call by Greenpeace for the PM to pick up the phone and directly urge Mr Koizumi to stop whaling. Would you endorse those suggestions?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well certainly the Prime Minister should be prepared to do that.

I notice yesterday he said Australia had no greater friend in our neighbourhood than Japan. And I think that’s right. We should be using our good relations with Japan to pick up the phone and say that this is an issue of environmental concern to each and every Australian.

It’s also a significant economic issue for Australia with the tourism and whale watching industries expanding every year by extraordinary proportions.

We should recognise that these magnificent mammals are worth far more alive through the whale watching industry and through supporting our environmental programs than they are ending up in tuck shops in Japanese schools.

It’s also the case that Japan now has an extraordinary amount of whale meat essentially in freezers because they can’t get rid of it. Consumption isn’t keeping up with the slaughter of whales in Australian waters.

This is an issue of sovereignty. The Prime Minister makes a lot of talking about borders. We know he’s been prepared to give away our borders on immigration issues, but on this issue we have the Australian Whale Sanctuary declared by the Australian Government in the Southern Ocean where Japan is taking more and more whales and where it’s declared this year it will add to its catch by taking humpback whales as well. Surely this is unacceptable and it’s extraordinary that the only intervention by the Howard Government in the courts has been to intervene against the case by Humane Society International last year which was seeking to uphold Australian law in Australian waters.

JOURNALIST: Has the Labor Party itself made any representations recently to Japan on this matter?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well frankly these representations are at Government to Government level. Certainly the Labor Party has made its position clear in whatever forums possible – we have made that position clear. And I know in terms of the work that Bob Sercombe has done in the Pacific, and also Kevin Rudd has made his position clear as the ALP’s foreign affairs spokesman.

JOURNALIST: On nuclear power, should Australians be concerned by the four incidents at Lucas Heights or is it just scaremongering as the Government says to draw those incidents to the debate?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I think it’s pretty reasonable that when you have an incident at a nuclear facility the local community should have a right to know.

It’s reasonable that the Science Minister not stand up in Parliament and say there hadn’t been any radioactive gases into the atmosphere when in fact there were. Xenon and Krypton leaked into the atmosphere around Lucas Heights.

I find it extraordinary that even after that incident on June 8, which significantly was the day Ziggy Switkowski stood aside from the ANSTO board to take up his position as the Chair of the Prime Minister’s nuclear task force, to impose nuclear power on Australia, that the Minister didn’t seem to be aware of that detail, didn’t seem to be aware yesterday when we raised in Parliament that there had been another incident the day before. I think Australians should be concerned about that.

This is also in the context whereby in the leaked Cabinet report from 1997, where the Government looked at a shortlist of 14 nuclear sites, they made a conscious decision to keep those sites secret from the Australian public because of a political decision that is very explicit in those Cabinet documents.

I think what these incidents show is that the Prime Minister has a responsibility to actually outline where his nuclear reactors will go and where the nuclear waste should go.

It’s no wonder the Prime Minister wants to keep those details of locations of nuclear facilities secret from the Australian public in this inquiry, which has no credibility unless it actually looks at where they will go.

 

Jun 11, 2006

Interview with Barrie Cassidy, Insiders ABC

Interview with Barrie Cassidy, Insiders ABC

11 June 2006

Nuclear power too expensive, dangerous: Albanese

The New South Wales and Queensland branches of the Labor Party met this weekend. The NSW branch passed a motion opposing nuclear power, but neither branch debated whether Labor should change its three mines policy. Labor’s spokesman for the environment Anthony Albanese says that is an issue for the federal conference next April.

BARRIE CASSIDY: And now to our program guest: Labor’s shadow minister for the Environment, Anthony Albanese. The NSW and Queensland branches of the Labor Party met this weekend. The NSW branch passed a motion opposing nuclear power, but neither of them debated the key issue of whether Labor should change its three mines policy. It seems they’re happy to leave that sensitive issue for the federal conference next April. The Prime Minister, meanwhile, says Labor is failing the national interest by turning its back on these sorts of nuclear issues.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER (7:30 REPORT, TUESDAY 6 JUNE): I have the hunch, in my bones, that in years into the future, you’re going to have nuclear power. In a lot of places we don’t have nuclear power generation, but certainly, to look at the three of them, given the energy challenges this country has, is the sensible thing to do. To shut your mind against it, in the negative way the Opposition has done, might be, you know, populist politics, but, in the long run, it’s not serving the national interests.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Anthony Albanese, good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE MINISTER: Good morning.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Now, I know that you maintain that it’s a mistake to refer to Labor’s policy as a three mines policy. You say it’s not. It is genuinely an anti-uranium policy?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it’s a no new mines policy. It’s a policy that I believe gets the balance right in that it recognises the problems with the nuclear fuel cycle, but also recognises that an economically responsible position is to guarantee all existing contracts. So, in effect, it’s a phasing-out policy.

BARRIE CASSIDY: So, when current contracts run out, that’s it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s right.

BARRIE CASSIDY: That suggests, then, that you will be arguing next April at the federal conference that no more uranium mining be conducted in Australia once current contracts have run out?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We need to recognise, Barrie, of course, that that allows for a substantial amount of uranium mining. Within our existing policy we’re going to see a tripling of the Olympic Dam project and a satisfaction of existing demand. We, of course, have projects such as Honeymoon, which have been approved, but which aren’t economically viable. So it’s not as if there’s this queue banking up under our existing policy.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But why do you make that point? Because you don’t want to startle people that uranium mining will go on in Australia? It seems to me you’re trying to have it both ways.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, we’re not. We have a position that balances the economically responsible position of honouring existing contracts. To do otherwise would leave the Commonwealth open to compensation. But also, one that recognises that there are problems with the nuclear fuel cycle, and I must say that in the recent Newspoll, only 22 per cent of Australians opposed our position and were calling for a change in Labor policy.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Kim Beazley has a different view, though, doesn’t he? He said it’s not a question of who digs it up, but the terms and conditions under which it is sold. So clearly, he’s going to be at loggerheads with you at the conference.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, well, I don’t think that’s right. I think it’s a matter of the balance that’s there. Kim has certainly emphasised issues such as nuclear non-proliferation, and the need to make improvements in the MPT and I certainly agree there. The real issue, we believe, is John Howard’s push for a massive expansion for a domestic nuclear power industry, for the waste issues associated with that. We have the fact that John Howard went to the United States and met with George Bush and then announced his plan for a nuclear Australia. We have the global nuclear partnership issue, which proposes for nuclear leasing for Australia and then us taking back, effectively becoming the world’s nuclear waste dump. I think that Labor – there is far more that unites us on this issue than minor differences at the edges.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But, do you think, at the end of the day, that Kim Beazley and others will go with you on this and maintain a no new mines policy?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, there are many in the party who’ve said they won’t do that and it’s up to us, in April, to sort those issues out. But as I say, the real issues, which unite Labor, are the issues of opposing this push of John Howard to have nuclear reactors in Australia, to further involve Australia in the nuclear fuel cycle, and all the dangers that that represents.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Why didn’t the New South Wales conference debate this very issue yesterday?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it wasn’t on the agenda. We had a unanimous position of the New South Wales conference yesterday, a position that completely opposed to a domestic nuclear power industry…

BARRIE CASSIDY: Yeah, we’ll get to that in a moment, but why did they not discuss uranium mining, given that it’s going to be a key debate at the federal conference next April?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it wasn’t on the agenda. And of course there isn’t any uranium in New South Wales, so it’s not an issue for the state conference. It’s an issue for the national conference. It’s appropriate that it be debated there, and we’ll have a resolution of that issue next April.

BARRIE CASSIDY: It’s an unusually reticent view, isn’t it, for a state branch to take: they won’t interfere in a federal matter?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, not at all. They took a very vigorous position yesterday. There was a full debate about nuclear issues on the floor of the conference and a unanimous resolution of it, which shows, I think, how united Labor is and determined to oppose John Howard’s dangerous plan, John Howard’s nuclear fantasy, indeed, which we believe will turn into Australia’s nuclear nightmare.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Well, at this stage, what that amounts to is an inquiry. Now, what’s wrong with that inquiry? What’s wrong with putting a few facts on the table?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it’s a matter of whether you’re putting the facts on the table. I mean, this is like asking the AFL commissioners to enquire into what’s the best footy code for Australia. It’s been stacked with nuclear proponents. The Prime Minister has said that it’s inevitable that Australia will develop nuclear power, so it’s an inquiry in the best terms of Yes, Minister. I mean, the World Wrestling Federation would be at baulk at the stack and the pre-determined outcome that’s been set up with this inquiry. And the fact is that the Prime Minister, in announcing this inquiry, couldn’t even say the word renewables. We have greenhouse emissions in Australia exploding – increasing by 25.1 per cent between 1990 and 2004, if you exclude land clearing issues. So what we need to do is get serious about immediate changes, get serious about the fact that the renewable energy industry is collapsing due to the emirate running out, get serious about geo-sequestration and clean coal technology, get serious about gas to liquids, get serious about…

BARRIE CASSIDY: But getting serious about clean coal…

ANTHONY ALBANESE: …the changes that are needed.

BARRIE CASSIDY: …that’s perhaps for the future, but are you prepared to concede that, as it stands right now, nuclear power stations are cleaner than coal-fired power stations?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, in their development, they’re certainly not. They’re very greenhouse gas intensive, and when you look at the nuclear industry, if you see it as a solution to climate change, then you have to put it in perspective, which is that if you double the number of nuclear power plants, you will decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent and run out of known uranium reserves within 25 years. In 25 years time, you will still have, out of the 60 per cent cut that’s needed, you will have achieved 5 per cent, have 55 per cent to go, and still – and have the issue of nuclear waste hanging round for the next 250,000 years.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Well, let me give you a figure…

ANTHONY ALBANESE: If we’re getting serious about climate change, we need to, actually, we need to find real solutions and get on with the job of moving down that path a carbon-constrained economy.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Well, let me give you a figure that Julie Bishop, the Science Minister, quoted last week: coal-fired power stations produce 320,000 tonnes of toxic waste; nuclear: 20 tonnes. 20.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Which is why we need – yeah, when they’re in production, but in the getting the uranium, getting the nuclear power stations up they’re incredibly greenhouse gas intensive. And she excludes that, just like the so-called study that she released in two stages – because she didn’t want people to look at the detail – excluded the costs of decommissioning, which, in the UK, is $170 billion to decommission their 20 plants. It excluded the costs of waste and it had envisaged Government backing for insurance. It’s a bit like asking the cost of a pie without the pastry and the meat. They’re not serious about these issues, I don’t believe, Barrie, and when you look at nuclear power, it simply doesn’t stack up economically for Australia. It doesn’t stack up in terms of waste and in terms of nuclear proliferation, that is a major issue, because that confronts the world, which is acknowledged…

BARRIE CASSIDY: Yeah, but on that safety issue: there are 440 nuclear reactors around the world. Now, identify the safety issue that has arisen from any one of those reactors?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, the second largest reactor in Japan was shut down this year because it was – because of seismic activity. You’ve had leakages in the United States into the water table. You’ve had Chernobyl, being the best example. But you’ve had a number of nuclear incidents and leaks and problems. We’ve had problems even at Lucas Heights with the minor size of that reactor there. So, I believe that safety is an issue. The issue of nuclear waste hangs around for 250,000 years, and the big issue, the big issue of nuclear proliferation, we know, and we can see it with the debate over Iran. The problems that remain over nuclear proliferation and their link to the nuclear cycle, and until such time as we have some solutions there – that’s why Mohammed El-Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has called for a moratorium, for example, on enrichment, because of these issues, and they remain, and in the climate of terrorism, where we don’t have to worry just about states, but have to worry about organisations and individuals, then I think that the issue of proliferation is of more concern than it was years ago.

BARRIE CASSIDY: OK, just finally on whaling – and there is an important conference in the Caribbean this week – and again, it seems Australia will struggle to get the support of many of the Pacific island countries.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, that’s not surprising. The Pacific island countries’ major concern is climate change, and Australia is seen as an international pariah for our failure to ratify the Kyoto protocol and be part of that global effort. So it’s not surprising that when Australia says "Be a part of the international environmental effort," they’re saying "You can’t pick and choose," and are vulnerable to having been picked off and have in the past: Tuvalu, Nauru, the Solomons haven’t supported Australia. I think, at this conference, it’s quite clear – it’s unlikely, of course, that the Japanese will be able to get – the pro-whaling nations – will be able to get the three-quarters majority to secure a return to commercial whaling, it may well be that they have a majority – but what it really shows is the best outcome that can come from this conference is a status quo outcome that allows an increase in scientific whaling, that will see humpback whales hunted once again this year, and that’s why the Howard Government, if it’s serious, needs to take the pro-whaling nations to the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea – just as we did on southern bluefin tuna – so that we can actually show that we’re serious about ending this barbaric practice.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But, if that is the outcome, you can’t blame Australia for that, surely, because a lot of these votes are being gathered because of the largesse that comes their way from special interest groups?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, certainly corruption in the IWC is a concern. But Australia needs to do more than every two weeks prior to an IWC meeting, travel round and talk to people about these issues. We actually need to show that we’re serious. The only time that Australia has been involved in a legal case was to intervene against the Humane Society International case last year, to show that – which was about upholding Australian law, and in that, the then attorney-general, Philip Ruddock, said it would create a diplomatic disagreement with Japan. Well, we do have a diplomatic disagreement with Japan. That doesn’t mean we’re not friends on other issues, but on this particular issue, we should be taking legal action to back up our diplomatic action, which, of course, should be continued.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time this morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks, Barrie.

 

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