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Jul 30, 2006

Transcript of Television Interview – Meet the Press – Uranium Policy

Transcript of Television Interview

Meet the Press

30 July 2006

Discussions about Labor’s Uranium Policy

MEET THE PRESS PRESENTER GREG TURNBULL: Hello and welcome to Meet The Press. This week Kim Beazley staked his leadership on scrapping Labor’s policy banning new uranium mines. He set himself a hurdle he must clear at next year’s ALP National Conference.

OPPOSITION LEADER KIM BEAZLEY (Monday): So tonight I announce that I will seek a change to my party’s platform to replace the no new mines policy with a new approach based on the strongest safeguards in the world. Now, I fully realise there are diverse views in my party on this matter. Indeed, there are diverse views in my shadow ministry and the caucus.

GREG TURNBULL: Indeed there are. Our guest this morning is leading the charge against Kim Beazley’s proposal, Shadow Environment and Water Minister Anthony Albanese. We’ll also hear a defence of Israel’s position in the deadly conflict in Lebanon. But first to what the nation’s papers are reporting this Sunday, July 30. The ‘Sunday Mail’ in Queensland covers the overwhelming ‘no’ vote in Toowoomba yesterday, rejecting the use of recycled sewage as drinking water. Now there’ll be a statewide referendum in 2008. The ‘Age’ reports that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has arrived back in Israel for talks on a peacekeeping force in Lebanon. The ‘Sunday Times’ says two men have been charged with disorderly conduct after yesterday’s violent anti-war protest against the Prime Minister in Perth. And with an interest rate rise looming, the ‘Sun-Herald’ says there’s now a push for longer mortgages, possibly up to 50 years. Kim Beazley’s uranium policy revamp is being hotly opposed by his Shadow Environment and Water Minister Anthony Albanese, who is our guest this morning. Welcome to the program.

SHADOW ENVIRONMENT AND WATER MINISTER ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

GREG TURNBULL: Firstly to that Toowoomba vote, if we could just go there. I guess it’s no surprise to many Australians that a majority of Australians in Toowoomba don’t want to go drinking their own sewage.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, it wasn’t a surprising result. It was a disappointing result. You had both Federal Labor and the Federal Government urging a ‘yes’ vote primarily because the ‘no’ campaign didn’t come up with any alternative.

GREG TURNBULL: Does this mean that when this issue is revisited, as it will be presumably if Peter Beattie is still in Government in 2008, that it has to be approached another way?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I think we need a campaign of education. Essentially, recycling, of course, is what natural processes do through the process of evaporation, cloud formation and rain, and we need to get across the idea that recycling of course isn’t necessary for potable water in most cases, but certainly for industrial use and the general principle that we need to value our water rather than use it once and then expel it into the ocean. Those days are gone.

GREG TURNBULL: Let’s go to the uranium debate that flared through the week. What’s so important about the number of mines that you’re prepared to risk blowing up the ALP conference and derailing your leader over the issue?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, uranium is a very moderate export earner, but it’s a big principle in the Labor Party, and that principle comes down to this – you can guarantee that uranium mining will lead to nuclear waste. You can’t guarantee that uranium mining won’t lead to nuclear weapons, and that’s why the principle which is embodied in the policy, which is essentially a phasing out of uranium mining, is something that many delegates to the conference and party members hold dear, and that’s why we’re having this vigorous debate inside the Labor Party.

GREG TURNBULL: What about the point that Kim Beazley made in his Sydney Institute speech, where he said banning new uranium mines would not limit the export of Australian uranium to the world, it would simply favour the incumbent producers? We’re already going to be the biggest exporter with the expansion of Olympic Dam. Aren’t you flying in the face of reality?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No. Labor’s policy has to balance two principles. One is the principle recognising the concerns with the nuclear fuel cycle, saying that until the problems of cost, waste, safety and proliferation are resolved we won’t go further down that track. But secondly, also, the economic principle that we don’t repudiate contracts, that Labor recognises economic sovereignty, if you like, and that’s why we would not repudiate contracts. But, obviously, unless getting rid of the No new mines policy is going to lead to more uranium mining, then there’s not much point having the debate.

GREG TURNBULL: Well, it seems to be a bit of a foregone conclusion that you will not succeed at the ALP conference in rolling Kim Beazley on this issue. One experienced observer of the ALP over the years is John Howard. Here’s his assessment that he made through the week. PRIME MINISTER JOHN HOWARD (Tuesday): Oh, I think he’ll get them. Surely they won’t roll him on this. I can’t believe they would! But – no, I predict it will get carried and, but all it does is bring them limping towards basic common sense.

GREG TURNBULL: Anthony Albanese, what happens if through the magic of your rhetoric, you hypnotise the conference and they do actually support your position? That would be the end of Kim Beazley, wouldn’t it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, not at all. John Howard, of course, doesn’t have a vote in the Labor Party, and he doesn’t understand the fact that in the Labor Party we value society as something more than economic transactions between economic entities. We actually look at the social and environmental consequences of economic activity. So I’m not surprised that he doesn’t get that this is a debate within the Labor Party. But it is, as Kim Beazley himself has said, and I think he’s shown strength and leadership in doing it, he hasn’t said he’ll dictate the policy, he wants a debate, and he’s having a mature debate from a modern political party and the last democratic party left in Australia.

GREG TURNBULL: You’ve said through the week that you don’t think there are many votes in this issue for the Labor Party and perhaps, on the contrary, are you concerned that success for Kim Beazley at the conference on this issue will hand votes to the Greens, including in your own electorate?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I certainly think that this is an issue of principle, but also in terms of the politics of the issue I just don’t believe that there are people out there in marginal seats who voted for John Howard at the last election who are saying, "If only Labor got rid of our no new mines policy that we’d change our vote to the Labor Party." On the contrary, I think there’s many people who will be quite disheartened if Labor’s seen to be watering down our strong position in opposition to uranium mining. It’s clear that Labor will maintain, regardless of the outcome on the no new mines policy, a very strong position in opposition to nuclear reactors, in opposition to uranium enrichment. So there’s going to be a very clear distinction regardless of the policy outcome. But I just think that just like our position on AWAs gives us such a clear distinction on the WorkChoices legislation from the Government, we should have an absolutely clear position of no further involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle whatsoever.

GREG TURNBULL: We will come back to the uranium issue with the panel, but if I could just go to some general politics very quickly. An Ipsos Mackay opinion poll published exclusively for Meet The Press has found that two-thirds of Australians think Peter Costello should remain as Treasurer and patiently wait for another opportunity to take the prime ministership. 12% think he should retire from politics, 12% think he should resign in a huff and go to the backbench, 67% believe he should stay where he is, and 9% just don’t know. What do you think, Anthony Albanese, and do you think that view to have him stay in the job might change with next week’s interest rate rise?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well. it certainly might change, but I think that maybe they’re asking the wrong question. The question is – should he go back to doing his job as Treasurer? He seems to be talking about anything but at the moment, and today I notice he’s lecturing fathers about parental responsibility. I think he should actually get on back to the job he was elected to do.

GREG TURNBULL: Time for a break. When we return with the panel, more on uranium and the broader political landscape.

GREG TURNBULL: You’re on Meet The Press with our guest Anthony Albanese. Welcome to our panel this morning, Jennifer Hewett from the ‘Australian Financial Review’ and News Limited columnist Glenn Milne.

JENNIFER HEWETT, ‘AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW’: Mr Albanese, there’s a lot of talk about principle going on in terms of the uranium debate, but isn’t the script written for pretty practical politics, which is that you get to argue about symbolism and look honourable in defeat, and Mr Beazley gets to look tough in changing a quarter of a century-old policy?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, that’s not right. We’re having a serious debate about a serious issue. And it’s in the context, of course, of the need to address climate change. John Howard has discovered one area of climate change, and says that we need nuclear energy whilst our emissions are spiralling. So I think this will be a debate. The advantage is that it focuses attention on the need to take serious action to avoid dangerous climate change. It gives us a chance to campaign on Kim Beazley’s climate change blue print, which we released earlier this year.

JENNIFER HEWETT, ‘AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW’: You said it’s a serious debate, but the underlying serious debate is about economic management, and presumably this adds to Labor’s economic credibility if Kim Beazley is able to change this policy. But do you think that remains one of the greatest areas of weakness for the Labor Party?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, I don’t think it does at all, and I think that the difficulties that the economy’s experiencing at the moment, with the potential interest rate increase again next week, adds to problems in the Government side. On the economic side of this debate, we need to put it into some perspective. What we have here is uranium exports worth $500 million last year. That’s about the same amount as manganese ore and oxide, which we hear nothing about. It’s about the same amount as the loss of two wind farm projects in Tasmania and South Australia, which aren’t going ahead because of the Government’s failure to increase the mandatory renewable energy target. It’s a bit more, but not much more, than the $300 million contract that was signed by the Tasmanian company Roaring 40s with the Chinese Premier when he was out here earlier this year. So I think that one of the things that we need to do in this debate as the Labor Party is make sure that we get home the message that Australia is missing out on economic opportunities, both domestically in terms of our transformation to a carbon-constrained economy, the growth of the renewable energies industry, but also the massive export potential that is there for us to position ourselves to take advantage of what’s a trillion-dollar growth industry.

GLENN MILNE, NEWS LIMITED: Anthony Albanese, I would just like to go back to a question that Greg asked you in the first break, and that is you say that Kim Beazley could survive as leader if he lost on this issue at the ALP National Conference. Can you possibly explain to me how that could happen if he’s repudiated by his own party?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is a democratic debate. Of course, I remember a couple of years ago at a State conference Bob Carr and Michael Egan failing to get to 5% of the vote for their plan to support electricity privatisation, and yet the Labor vote went up and they got a significantly increased majority.

GLENN MILNE: Yes, but Bob Carr was Premier then, not Opposition Leader.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s right, but this is a serious issue of principle in the Labor Party. Yesterday the ACT conference voted to support the no new mines policy. There isn’t a single State or Territory branch which has opposed the no new mines policy, and at the – next month, of course, all members of the party will get to vote for who the national president of the ALP is. And that will be an opportunity, I’m sure, in which people’s position on the no new mines policy will be a factor.

GLENN MILNE: So you’re going to run a no new mines candidate for the presidency of the party, is that right?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, that will be one factor, but it’s pretty clear that people are going to want to know what people’s position is on the no new mines policy and that will be a factor in them voting. There’s been various other suggestions. Some people are suggesting a write-in on ballot papers like the ‘no dams’ write-in in the election, in order for people to express their view, because I think it’s very clear that a majority of ALP members around the nation support the existing policy, don’t want any further involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle, are interested in serious action to address climate change but don’t want to go down this track.

JENNIFER HEWETT: Mr Albanese, it seems that the environment’s a mainstream issue all around the world, including from business. Why, if it’s such a big issue, are you not able to make more political headway with it as a party?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well. I think we are making headway with this issue as a party. In one way, I think there’s an opportunity for us to wedge the Government on these issues. This is a Government that really has got nothing to say about climate change. They’re isolated in terms of their failure to ratify the Kyoto protocol. They’re opposed to emissions trading, opposed to a market-based mechanism for setting a price on carbon, contrary to the call of many in the business community, and recently the climate change business round table called for early action because they know that unless we act soon to address climate change issues and to transform the economy, then it will cost more in the long run. So the sort of policies that Kim Beazley outlined in the climate change blueprint – supporting clean coal technology, supporting solar and renewables – is where we need to go.

JENNIFER HEWETT: But you need also to have that economic management underpinning, don’t you, and that’s where you seem to be having trouble getting the connection?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Except I think the days of sustainability or prosperity are long gone. What we need to do is recognise that the environment can no longer be considered as something on the end once you’ve dealt with economic and social policy. The environment must be at the core of economic and social policy in terms of sustainable outcomes, because climate change changes that from something that’s an option to something that’s a necessity, and that’s recognised by world leaders not just of the left, but take Arnold Schwarzenegger in the United States – has a $3.2 billion California solar initiative, a remarkable program. He’s got a target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for California. Across the board, world leaders are recognising the challenges that are there, and including in developing countries such as China, which has a 15% renewable energy target, and Australia is simply being left behind.

GLENN MILNE: One way you could possibly wedge the Government I guess on this issue would be to push at the national conference, given that you will probably lose the three mines issue, could you push at the national conference for increased safeguards on uranium enrichment and downstream processing over and above what Kim Beazley is already promising?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, Kim Beazley has made it very clear that strict safeguards are part of his push. I mean, what we have essentially is agreement within the Labor Party that we don’t want to be further involved in the nuclear fuel cycle. It’s where you draw the line. The difference that’s there is that Kim’s saying that you should allow new uranium mines with stronger safeguards and that allows us to have a greater global influence. I think that’s optimistic, and I draw attention to people such as Mohammed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency who’s talking about the nuclear non-proliferation treaty basically being in tatters, and the comments by Al Gore, the former vice president of the United States, who has said that every single nuclear proliferation issue that he dealt with in eight years in the White House was connected to a nuclear energy issue. And of course we’re seeing it played out at the moment with Iran. Iran surely is a wake-up call that the arguments that I’m putting, re the direct links between uranium mining, it’s entry into new nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear proliferation, are ones that we should be very cautious about getting further involved in.

GREG TURNBULL: Anthony Albanese, thanks very much for joining us this morning for this discussion on uranium, and best of luck in your advocacy in the ALP conference.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks, Greg.

 

Jul 26, 2006

Transcript of Media Conference, Marrickville Town Hall – Wind Farms, Uranium

Transcript of Media Conference

Marrickville Town Hall

26 July 2006

Subject: Environment Minister’s actions, Bald Hills Wind Farm, Uranium Mining.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m here today to talk about Minister Ian Campbell’s political decision to block the Bald Hills Wind Farm, which has potentially exposed the Commonwealth to legal action and damages.

On the 5th of April 2006, the Minister said that he decided to block the Bald Hills Wind Farm in Victoria because, “The report commissioned by my Department has said the Orange Bellied Parrot which is threatened and in a very precarious situation as a species can’t really stand any further impacts.”

We now know that this was not true. Once again, the Minister for the Environment has misled the Australian public. It’s clear this decision was not made for environmental or scientific reasons, but was all about politics.

The Minister’s own department recommended approval for this project on the 10th of March 2006 because as they advised, there did not appear to be direct evidence of any impact on the Orange Bellied Parrot from the Bald Hills Wind Farm. What this does is expose the Minister and therefore the Commonwealth to potential legal action under the tort of misfeasance in public office.

Because the Minister’s decision was not for environmental reasons and the Minister knew his actions would probably harm the project and cause damages, the Minister has exposed the Commonwealth to potential damages.

To potentially protect 1 parrot every 1000 years, the Minister stopped a $220million project that would have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 435,000 tonnes a year. This typifies the Government’s attitude towards renewable energy projects. At a time when there is a trillion dollar industry emerging in renewable energy, this is a government that blocked this project because of politics.

We also know that $500million worth of projects in Tasmania and South Australia will not be proceeding due to the Government’s failure to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. The Government has simply got its attitude towards renewable energy all wrong because of its obsession with trying to bring nuclear energy into Australia.

REPORTER: Isn’t it the case that the Minister though has the right under that legislation to ignore departmental advice and has a right to ministerial discretion?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well there is certainly considerable Ministerial discretion under the EPBC Act. But what there isn’t discretion over is in the Common Law and tort law to create decisions on the basis of malicious intent when there has been clear advice to the contrary.

The consideration is that the Commonwealth could be liable because of the Minister’s failure to take proper account of advice which he was given. If he chose to ignore that advice, and a court determined that was done deliberately, then both the Minister and the Commonwealth could be liable for damages.

REPORTER: Are you accusing the Minister of lying or was he just playing with words?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Quite clearly, the Minister lied to the Australian public when he said that this decision was based upon sound advice. It’s very clear, given the Minister’s own department indicated to him that there was no evidence of this parrot, the Orange Bellied Parrot, being in the vicinity of the Bald Hills Wind Farm project, that this was a decision based upon politics, not based upon good environmental practice, and what that does is to undermine the whole basis of confidence from the public, in the EPBC Act.

It also serves to undermine good infrastructure planning, good employment prospects and good environmental outcomes by undermining the renewable energy industry in Australia.

REPORTER: You’re saying that the Liberal Party promised the local electorate to oppose the wind farm in the first place, so this was just paying them back for that?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This of course was a project that was in the electorate of McMillan. Prior to the election, Minister Campbell indicated his opposition to this particular project, and quite clearly this has been a political decision, but it’s a decision which has undermined confidence in terms of business and infrastructure planning and undermined the renewable energy industry.

REPORTER: I don’t understand why it’s political. Why is that electorate against the wind farm?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The Minister quite clearly had campaigned and had indeed written to constituents in that electorate, indicating his opposition. The candidate for McMillan, Russell Broadbent, campaigned during the last federal election on this issue, indicating his opposition to this project.

And if you try to find a rational reason for why the project has been rejected by the Minister, then it’s very clear it has been rejected for political reasons because there are no sound environmental or scientific reasons for this project to be rejected, particularly given that five similar projects were approved.

REPORTER: Why is it an electoral winner to block a wind farm?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s not up to me to answer that. That’s obviously a judgement that has been made by Minister Campbell and it’s unfortunate that we have an Environment Minister who is prepared to make decisions which are against the environment, which undermine the renewable energy industry.

But the Minister has quite clearly tried to make wind farms a political issue. It isn’t just in Bald Hills, but with a community based wind farm project in Denmark in Western Australia, he attempted to intervene to stop that wind farm.

He has also argued that there needs to be a national code on wind farms in spite of the fact that he has had a report with national guidelines sitting on his desk for more than year that he refused to respond to. So this is a government with a Minister for the Environment who’s been prepared to play politics with these issues, which serve to undermine confidence in both Commonwealth environmental legislation, and also confidence in terms of the investment community.

REPORTER: Where should residents in rural areas who don’t want noisy wind farms on beautiful landscapes, where are they in this process?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Their opinions should certainly be a part of the process of consideration of these projects wherever they are suggested. What we have here though is the Minister stating that he was making this decision to reject the wind farm on the basis of good advice, on the basis of environmental and scientific reasons, when it is very clear that that simply isn’t the case.

REPORTER: $3 billion has been spent on wind farms [inaudible] John Howard last week said that he wanted to expand renewable energy including wind farms. Isn’t that a government that is supporting renewable energy?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well John Howard said that, but you have to look at what he does, not what he says, when it comes to John Howard, and you can just ask Peter Costello to confirm that that’s the case.

John Howard has established a 2% Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. That target has now been reached, and therefore support and subsidies for wind farms will desist, as they will for other forms of renewable energy, including solar energy, bio-fuels, wave energy, and other possibilities.

Evidence of that is the decision by the Roaring 40’s company in Tasmania not to proceed with 2 projects, one in Tasmania and one in South Australia, that were worth $500million. They did that and made that announcement and directly attributed their withdrawal from those projects to the Government’s failure to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target in the Federal Budget. So companies are saying that they are withdrawing investment, and in this case, it’s the same company that has done a $300million deal with China to export wind farms to China.

It’s a tragedy that renewable energy is welcome in China, but Australian innovation is not welcome here, and is not being commercialised here.

And $500million it must be said also is the same figure that Australia received from uranium exports last year, so given the obsession the Howard Government has with issues nuclear, it’s extraordinary that their policies have directly resulted in that investment not going ahead.

REPORTER: Will Kim Beazley succeed in getting the Labor Party to get rid of the ‘no new mines’ policy?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That will be up the delegates to the ALP National Conference next April, but quite clearly there is considerable opposition to a watering down of Labor’s ‘no new mines’ policy from members, from branches and from affiliated trade unions. What people know is that while you can guarantee that uranium mining leads to nuclear waste, what you can’t guarantee is that uranium mining won’t lead to the creation of nuclear weapons.

The Labor Party Membership knows that. This is a view that has been strongly held and will continue to be debated in the lead up to the Conference next April.

REPORTER: Won’t it be fatal for his leadership if he’s defeated on this?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, it won’t at all. What we are seeing is a mature, responsible debate in a democratic fashion from a modern political party. This is as it should be. Kim has made his views clear, but the Party members have a right to participate in that debate and will take their views to delegates to that national conference.

I note today that one newspaper is predicting results and outcomes, which is remarkable given that delegates to the Conference haven’t been elected yet. So maybe they know more than the people who are inside the Labor Party.

I’d suggest that anyone who thinks they can predict outcomes doesn’t understand how democratic the Labor Party is, but maybe they’ll come to understand that over coming months.

REPORTER: [inaudible] …would you be prepared to admit that if you split the motion into allowing new mining but no enrichment that that would be [inaudible] quite acceptable?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s actually not the way, and I don’t know who said that, but that’s actually not the way the processes of the Labor Party work. That particular report had people’s factions wrong, had all the details wrong.

What will occur is that a draft platform will go up to the Labor Party Conference. Amendments may or may not be moved to that. The National Policy Committee hasn’t even determined what the draft platform will be that will go to the Conference yet, so it’s very premature, 9 months out, for people to be talking about processes of motions.

There are committed people who are committed to reinforcing Labor’s anti-nuclear and anti-uranium position at that conference and we’ll see what happens in the debate.

REPORTER: What do you think of Clare Martin’s about-face?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Certainly I think if you look at what the State and Territory leaders have said, it puts the debate into some perspective.

In Western Australia, Premier Carpenter has taken the principled view that he has a mandate against uranium mining because, as he said, inevitably if you have uranium mining, you’ve got nuclear waste, and it has to go somewhere, and Western Australia has already been targeted by the Howard Government as a potential site for a nuclear waste dump.

In Queensland, Premier Beattie has expressed concern with any potential change to Labor’s policy.

In NSW here, Premier Iemma has pointed out that it is actually illegal in NSW, punishable by a jail term, for people not just to mine uranium, but exploration for uranium is outlawed under legislation, carried by the Labor Government in 1988 and he’s indicated he has no intention of changing that position.

Premier Bracks has indicated his support for the existing policy.

Clare Martin has expressed her view but I think it is interesting that the election last year gave a clear mandate to the Northern Territory Government to oppose further uranium mining. But it also should be noted of course that given the Howard Government’s clear ability and desire from time to time to intervene in the Northern Territory and override territory governments, at any time in the last 10 years if the Howard Government had wanted to approve a mine in the Northern Territory, it could have intervened to do so, so it does say something about the reality of the demand for new mines being opened in the Northern Territory.

Thanks.

Jul 26, 2006

Transcript of Media Conference, Marrickville Town Hall – Wind Farms, Uranium

Transcript of Media Conference

Marrickville Town Hall

26 July 2006

Subject: Environment Minister’s actions, Bald Hills Wind Farm, Uranium Mining.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m here today to talk about Minister Ian Campbell’s political decision to block the Bald Hills Wind Farm, which has potentially exposed the Commonwealth to legal action and damages.

On the 5th of April 2006, the Minister said that he decided to block the Bald Hills Wind Farm in Victoria because, “The report commissioned by my Department has said the Orange Bellied Parrot which is threatened and in a very precarious situation as a species can’t really stand any further impacts.”

We now know that this was not true. Once again, the Minister for the Environment has misled the Australian public. It’s clear this decision was not made for environmental or scientific reasons, but was all about politics.

The Minister’s own department recommended approval for this project on the 10th of March 2006 because as they advised, there did not appear to be direct evidence of any impact on the Orange Bellied Parrot from the Bald Hills Wind Farm. What this does is expose the Minister and therefore the Commonwealth to potential legal action under the tort of misfeasance in public office.

Because the Minister’s decision was not for environmental reasons and the Minister knew his actions would probably harm the project and cause damages, the Minister has exposed the Commonwealth to potential damages.

To potentially protect 1 parrot every 1000 years, the Minister stopped a $220million project that would have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 435,000 tonnes a year. This typifies the Government’s attitude towards renewable energy projects. At a time when there is a trillion dollar industry emerging in renewable energy, this is a government that blocked this project because of politics.

We also know that $500million worth of projects in Tasmania and South Australia will not be proceeding due to the Government’s failure to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. The Government has simply got its attitude towards renewable energy all wrong because of its obsession with trying to bring nuclear energy into Australia.

REPORTER: Isn’t it the case that the Minister though has the right under that legislation to ignore departmental advice and has a right to ministerial discretion?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well there is certainly considerable Ministerial discretion under the EPBC Act. But what there isn’t discretion over is in the Common Law and tort law to create decisions on the basis of malicious intent when there has been clear advice to the contrary.

The consideration is that the Commonwealth could be liable because of the Minister’s failure to take proper account of advice which he was given. If he chose to ignore that advice, and a court determined that was done deliberately, then both the Minister and the Commonwealth could be liable for damages.

REPORTER: Are you accusing the Minister of lying or was he just playing with words?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Quite clearly, the Minister lied to the Australian public when he said that this decision was based upon sound advice. It’s very clear, given the Minister’s own department indicated to him that there was no evidence of this parrot, the Orange Bellied Parrot, being in the vicinity of the Bald Hills Wind Farm project, that this was a decision based upon politics, not based upon good environmental practice, and what that does is to undermine the whole basis of confidence from the public, in the EPBC Act.

It also serves to undermine good infrastructure planning, good employment prospects and good environmental outcomes by undermining the renewable energy industry in Australia.

REPORTER: You’re saying that the Liberal Party promised the local electorate to oppose the wind farm in the first place, so this was just paying them back for that?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This of course was a project that was in the electorate of McMillan. Prior to the election, Minister Campbell indicated his opposition to this particular project, and quite clearly this has been a political decision, but it’s a decision which has undermined confidence in terms of business and infrastructure planning and undermined the renewable energy industry.

REPORTER: I don’t understand why it’s political. Why is that electorate against the wind farm?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The Minister quite clearly had campaigned and had indeed written to constituents in that electorate, indicating his opposition. The candidate for McMillan, Russell Broadbent, campaigned during the last federal election on this issue, indicating his opposition to this project.

And if you try to find a rational reason for why the project has been rejected by the Minister, then it’s very clear it has been rejected for political reasons because there are no sound environmental or scientific reasons for this project to be rejected, particularly given that five similar projects were approved.

REPORTER: Why is it an electoral winner to block a wind farm?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s not up to me to answer that. That’s obviously a judgement that has been made by Minister Campbell and it’s unfortunate that we have an Environment Minister who is prepared to make decisions which are against the environment, which undermine the renewable energy industry.

But the Minister has quite clearly tried to make wind farms a political issue. It isn’t just in Bald Hills, but with a community based wind farm project in Denmark in Western Australia, he attempted to intervene to stop that wind farm.

He has also argued that there needs to be a national code on wind farms in spite of the fact that he has had a report with national guidelines sitting on his desk for more than year that he refused to respond to. So this is a government with a Minister for the Environment who’s been prepared to play politics with these issues, which serve to undermine confidence in both Commonwealth environmental legislation, and also confidence in terms of the investment community.

REPORTER: Where should residents in rural areas who don’t want noisy wind farms on beautiful landscapes, where are they in this process?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Their opinions should certainly be a part of the process of consideration of these projects wherever they are suggested. What we have here though is the Minister stating that he was making this decision to reject the wind farm on the basis of good advice, on the basis of environmental and scientific reasons, when it is very clear that that simply isn’t the case.

REPORTER: $3 billion has been spent on wind farms [inaudible] John Howard last week said that he wanted to expand renewable energy including wind farms. Isn’t that a government that is supporting renewable energy?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well John Howard said that, but you have to look at what he does, not what he says, when it comes to John Howard, and you can just ask Peter Costello to confirm that that’s the case.

John Howard has established a 2% Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. That target has now been reached, and therefore support and subsidies for wind farms will desist, as they will for other forms of renewable energy, including solar energy, bio-fuels, wave energy, and other possibilities.

Evidence of that is the decision by the Roaring 40’s company in Tasmania not to proceed with 2 projects, one in Tasmania and one in South Australia, that were worth $500million. They did that and made that announcement and directly attributed their withdrawal from those projects to the Government’s failure to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target in the Federal Budget. So companies are saying that they are withdrawing investment, and in this case, it’s the same company that has done a $300million deal with China to export wind farms to China.

It’s a tragedy that renewable energy is welcome in China, but Australian innovation is not welcome here, and is not being commercialised here.

And $500million it must be said also is the same figure that Australia received from uranium exports last year, so given the obsession the Howard Government has with issues nuclear, it’s extraordinary that their policies have directly resulted in that investment not going ahead.

REPORTER: Will Kim Beazley succeed in getting the Labor Party to get rid of the ‘no new mines’ policy?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That will be up the delegates to the ALP National Conference next April, but quite clearly there is considerable opposition to a watering down of Labor’s ‘no new mines’ policy from members, from branches and from affiliated trade unions. What people know is that while you can guarantee that uranium mining leads to nuclear waste, what you can’t guarantee is that uranium mining won’t lead to the creation of nuclear weapons.

The Labor Party Membership knows that. This is a view that has been strongly held and will continue to be debated in the lead up to the Conference next April.

REPORTER: Won’t it be fatal for his leadership if he’s defeated on this?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, it won’t at all. What we are seeing is a mature, responsible debate in a democratic fashion from a modern political party. This is as it should be. Kim has made his views clear, but the Party members have a right to participate in that debate and will take their views to delegates to that national conference.

I note today that one newspaper is predicting results and outcomes, which is remarkable given that delegates to the Conference haven’t been elected yet. So maybe they know more than the people who are inside the Labor Party.

I’d suggest that anyone who thinks they can predict outcomes doesn’t understand how democratic the Labor Party is, but maybe they’ll come to understand that over coming months.

REPORTER: [inaudible] …would you be prepared to admit that if you split the motion into allowing new mining but no enrichment that that would be [inaudible] quite acceptable?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s actually not the way, and I don’t know who said that, but that’s actually not the way the processes of the Labor Party work. That particular report had people’s factions wrong, had all the details wrong.

What will occur is that a draft platform will go up to the Labor Party Conference. Amendments may or may not be moved to that. The National Policy Committee hasn’t even determined what the draft platform will be that will go to the Conference yet, so it’s very premature, 9 months out, for people to be talking about processes of motions.

There are committed people who are committed to reinforcing Labor’s anti-nuclear and anti-uranium position at that conference and we’ll see what happens in the debate.

REPORTER: What do you think of Clare Martin’s about-face?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Certainly I think if you look at what the State and Territory leaders have said, it puts the debate into some perspective.

In Western Australia, Premier Carpenter has taken the principled view that he has a mandate against uranium mining because, as he said, inevitably if you have uranium mining, you’ve got nuclear waste, and it has to go somewhere, and Western Australia has already been targeted by the Howard Government as a potential site for a nuclear waste dump.

In Queensland, Premier Beattie has expressed concern with any potential change to Labor’s policy.

In NSW here, Premier Iemma has pointed out that it is actually illegal in NSW, punishable by a jail term, for people not just to mine uranium, but exploration for uranium is outlawed under legislation, carried by the Labor Government in 1988 and he’s indicated he has no intention of changing that position.

Premier Bracks has indicated his support for the existing policy.

Clare Martin has expressed her view but I think it is interesting that the election last year gave a clear mandate to the Northern Territory Government to oppose further uranium mining. But it also should be noted of course that given the Howard Government’s clear ability and desire from time to time to intervene in the Northern Territory and override territory governments, at any time in the last 10 years if the Howard Government had wanted to approve a mine in the Northern Territory, it could have intervened to do so, so it does say something about the reality of the demand for new mines being opened in the Northern Territory.

Thanks.

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

 

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

 

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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