Aug 16, 2007

Questions without Notice – Nuclear Power

Questions without Notice – Nuclear Power

16 August 2007

Mr ALBANESE (2.29 p.m.)—My question is to the Prime Minister and I refer to his earlier answer that ‘nuclear power has to be part of the solution’. I refer the Prime Minister to the official website of the member for Gilmore, which contained two contradictory petitions: one supports the establishment of a nuclear power plant and, in the second one, Joanna Gash says ‘no nuclear power plants for Gilmore’. Does this attempt by the member for Gilmore to both support and oppose nuclear reactors explain why the government is yet to introduce the legislation outlined by the Prime Minister on 28 April to repeal the ban on nuclear reactors in Australia? Prime Minister, where will your 25 nuclear reactors go and why shouldn’t the Australian people get a say in whether or not they go into their local communities?

The SPEAKER—Order! In calling the Prime Minister, I would inform the Prime Minister that he is not required to comment on another member’s views.

Mr HOWARD—The member for Gilmore is a magnificent representative. What is more, she lets her people speak—and her people speak very warmly of her representation. I just assure the member for Grayndler that I am quite certain the Australian people will have plenty of opportunity to express their views about nuclear power on a number of occasions in the future.

But, while we are talking about nuclear power, I just happen to have come across a bit of paper, marked confidential, which is Professor Ross Garnaut’s speech ‘China’s Economic Growth and the World Energy Balance’—uranium, energy et cetera. A question to Professor Garnaut reads:

Ross, as China and India expand their energy needs, do you think, given the dangers inherent in relying too heavily on fossil fuel, that Australia has a moral imperative to sell uranium to—you know—large quantities to those two countries?

He is instructive on that, then goes on to dwell on another matter and then says:

Well, I think we’ve all got imperatives, moral and otherwise, to address greenhouse issues seriously. Uranium is part of the alternative to fossil fuels and I think we’ve got to think about these issues rationally.

Can I say to the member for Grayndler, who puts himself forward as a serious member of the opposition interested—

Government members interjecting—

Mr HOWARD—Doesn’t he? Do I do him an injustice? No, I do not do him an injustice. He does put himself seriously forward. If you want to be treated seriously, you have to consider all of the alternatives. It is a denial of reality to pretend that you can have a comprehensive approach to the issue of global warming without considering at least the possibility that, when economic circumstances have altered sufficiently, nuclear power becomes part of the solution.

We, as a government, are not going to indicate that a nuclear power station will go in one location or another. The Labor Party has spent all of this year trying to kid the Australian public that it believes in the market. If it really believes in the market, it must understand that decisions as to where nuclear power plants might be located in the future will not be decisions of the government; they will be decisions of commercial investment. Therefore, whether they are located in the magnificent Municipality of Randwick, the Shire of Shoalhaven, the Municipality of Waverley, the City of Ryde or, indeed, wherever you might go, it will be a matter of commercial decision making and not a decision of the government.